Thursday, May 3, 2007

What if you gained the whole world but lost your soul?

In our "keep up with the Jones'" and infomercial get-rich-quick propaganda culture, it seems that making money, beating the competition or winning-at-all-cost has become more important than HOW we achieve those virtues. As an angel investor and relatively exposed entrepreneur I am presented with all sorts of business schemes and am promoted all sorts of "success stories". I was recently pitched a business model where at the end I simply asked them to send me a sample of the product. I tried it and it was crap (I checked a thesaurus to find a kinder word, but none applied as equally). I relayed this information to the pitchman and he retorted with how big the margins were and how they could "position and package" the story and the tremendous money that could be made. I was flabbergasted! I shouldn't have been, I hear it all the time. The money making potential is supposed to override the fact that essentially they are defrauding people by promoting a product that is not worth what they are charging and will not deliver what they promise. I am vehemently opposed to this. Our society places too much value on the external "affects" - the big houses, cars, yachts, planes and vacations than on how you have committed your life force to create value for which these things were earned. The focus seems to be on the end and the means is insignificant. WRONG! That is as insidious as admiring the luxuries of a drug dealer and forgetting that he got the money by selling a product that destroys lives and ultimately kills people. It does not have to be as extreme as a drug dealer to be morally corruptible. Lending your talents, energy and life force to anything that is based on hype and hyperbole is also fraud – of the worst kind – fraud of your integrity. Over the last 10 years I have turned down countless business opportunities that would have earned me tens of millions of dollars – I kid you not. Personally I COULD NOT do these ventures because it would be at the sacrifice of my personal principles and integrity. Do you think I am crazy? Then you need to read this article again and again. Trust me, you will be rewarded many times over for protecting and acting in accordance with your integrity in the end. For one thing you will not forfeit your soul in your attempt to gain the world. What is Integrity? Here is a great article from Denis Waitely that explains:
Integrity is the Real Bottom Line Dictionary definition: soundness of moral character, adherence to ethical principles and being unimpaired. Its middle English root is related to integrate-to bring together as a whole-and integral -- complete and whole. These references to wholeness rightly suggest that integrity affects all aspects of our lives, which is why it is like a healthy investment portfolio filled with blue chip stocks such as honesty, fairness, and loyalty. Integrity that strengthens an inner value system is the real human bottom line. It means that you don't base your decisions simply on being politically correct. You do what's right, not what's fashionable. You know that truth is absolute, not a device for manipulating others. And, it's not just in the major decisions that this quality is needed. Complete integrity in little things is no little thing at all. As has been said many times, "The devil is in the details" and "elephants don't bite, but fleas do." There are no degrees of integrity. You have it or you don't. Being slightly dishonest may be a safe adventure for a time. But one day, inevitably, little details will be noticed and the piper will have to be paid. Your word is more valuable than a surety bond. What you are speaks so loudly, no one can really hear what you say. If what you do matches what you say, your life will speak forcefully indeed. In people, we value honesty more than any other virtue. We expect it from our leaders. We must demand it from ourselves. This week and from now on, "seek the truth," and "speak the truth." - Denis Waitley

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