I’m a big fan of doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do, not because you are afraid you are going to get caught doing the wrong thing.
Here’s my favorite story about doing the right thing. I heard it when I was about your age, and I think about it a lot.
Once upon a time, a company was interviewing people to be their new CEO (Chief Executive Officer, who is everyone’s boss – the top dog). The company flew in this guy for an all-day interview because the guy had great experience, great references, and a history of helping companies make a lot of money. Let’s call him Bob, the CEO candidate. And let’s say that the committee to make the decision was headed up by Ann, who got to show Bob around all day. Bob was their first choice for CEO, and all morning long, he impressed everyone.
Then at lunch, they went to the company’s cafeteria, and Ann was behind Bob in line, and she saw him take a butter packet out of the bowl marked “Butter 6 cents” and carefully slip the butter under the lip of his plate, so it would be hard for the cashier to see it, then hold the tray so his hand was covering the place where the butter could be seen. Ann and Bob were talking at the time, so Ann was pretty sure that Bob thought she had not seen it.
Sure enough, when they were checking out, the cashier said out loud everything that she was ringing up, and the butter was not included. Bob did not correct the mistake.
After lunch, Ann told the rest of the committee what she had seen, and they canceled the rest of the interviews and sent Bob home without the job. They all agreed that if Bob could not be trusted with a 6-cent slab of butter, he could not be trusted with their company.
What makes me sad for Bob in this story is not that he got caught (I’m glad he got caught – maybe it will help him think about he’s doing from now on), but what makes me sad is that Bob was a “get away with it if you can” kind of a person instead of a “do the right thing” kind of a person.
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