Danger: Separating Public and Private Life
You may hear it from time to time. "Leave your private life and problems at home, and leave your work at the office."
True enough. Family time for children is best with parents who are fully present, and bosses like their employees to be full engaged, rather than fretting about family problems. Everyone has problems, but that doesn't change the fact that children need interaction and work needs doing.
But does that mean we leave everything we hold valuable at home? What about our values and principles? Our honor and integrity? Does that mean we are to do everything we are told, blindly and without thinking, as if the office suddenly makes us unaccountable for anything and everything we hold dear?
"The system does not want you to apply the same values in the workplace that you do outside of work … it wants you to replace those values with the system’s values. The system is obsessed with money, and it wants you to be, too. The system wants you—it needs you—to play the game." -Federal Judge Patrick Schiltz
Maybe that's a reason why corruption exists in the workplace. Perhaps it's because we allow ourselves to become someone else. A "professional." A professional at allowing things to slide. Professionally allowing ourselves to take part in those bad things. And professionally allowing things to get worse. Until one day look in the mirror, and we realizing we haven't been so "professional."
And don't take these just as "religious values", unless you mean values that matter. Values that stand the test of time, and are worth living. Because that's what I have observed. They are morals and values that separate great men and women from mediocre ones. The things that make a person truly happy and content to be who they are, able to look themselves in the mirror and smile.
What kind of values am I saying to FOLLOW?
- Telling the truth
- Taking only what is rightfully ours
- Being open and honest (as far as is appropriate)
- Talking about and looking for the Good in others.
- Keeping your Integrity
- Being fair
- Keep your Promises
- Being true and trustworthy in all we do
- Keeping humble
- Working a fair day's wage
- Not making a judgement until we know the facts
- Being kind even when we know bad facts
- Never hiding things that would hurt someone
- Valuing those we care about, and being true to them
- Being aware of ourselves and if our "ethics" are really ethical.
What kinds of things should we AVOID?
- Lying – Like not reporting our time cards correctly**
** * Stealing – Working at a store and eating a few candy bars without paying. * Cheating of any form – Not working, and yet still reporting that we worked. * Gossiping, whether true or false. * Bad talking about people even if it was true (repeated on purpose) * Breaking promises, or making ones we can't keep. * Benefiting unfairly at the expense of others * Pride – Anything that is "H2O": Hatred, Hostility, or Opposition. * Deception – such as passive lying, or not saying the truth when we can. * Conspiracy, defined as "secretly plotting to do something bad" * Having improper relationships, ie, married executive and his secretary falling in "love" * And anything else which is immoral, unethical, sad, distasteful, or which we would otherwise regret in ten or twenty years, or ever.
Especially with the little things.
If we are allowing our values to slide in the workplace, the advice of Elder Uchtdorf may be of use: "Stop it".
Yet there is a better way: Don't start in the first place. Either way: Stand by your values:
Be ready. Be prepared. I listed this first because it is especially important. If you haven't made up your mind before someone or some situation tries to persuade you to be unethical, then you
Don't allow yourself to be unethical even a little. A little amount of water can destroy a massive dam. How are you any different? If you allow it to overrun you, no matter how slowly or "controlled," it will overpower you. All it needs it the chance and time. Don't let it have either.
For more on the damage of "little by little," see "Don't Give in Even Once" where I review a great paper published by Federal Judge Patrick Schiltz about why lawyers (and perhaps others), tend to become unethical, little by little. And it's not just about the money...
Recognize you aren't exempt from the rules. You may falsely believe that you are "different" and somehow you have great "superhuman" powers of separating yourself from these problems. You aren't. You are messing with Moral Laws, Virtues, and Principles, and just like the old story of the battleship and the lighthouse, if you (the battleship) keep ignoring the Moral Laws, Virtues, and Principles (the lighthouse), you will end up running aground and sinking. Your choice.
Be honest. Don't lie, especially "white" lies. These little lies can be compared to little bits of thread. One here and there doesn't seem harmful, but do you know what makes up the strong cords that are capable of holding hundreds of tons of weight? Threads. Lots of little threads that will tie you up so tight you will loose your ability to choose. In other words: you will become a prisoner of your own making.
Work hard. Earn your keep. Working hard makes us stronger and more fit. It expands our abilities and makes us better. Things of value tend to have to be worked for, and it may earn your employer's trust.
Make time for Family and Friends. Those whom you love are important, and they need your time (perhaps even more than your money). Spend time with them, get to know them, and serve them in whatever way you can. Why? As a bad example, do you think it's okay for lawyer to spend too much time at the office, while his/her children "starve" for his/her attention and love and guidance? Is this ethical? No. Does sending his kids to a good psychologist make up for it? No, because any good psychologist will tell you there is no substitute for a you in the home.
"The greatest work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own home."
– Harold B. Lee
As a Caution, Don't go on a war path. Know what you believe in and stand by it. Yet if someone asks you to do something unethical, don't attack. Remember pride? To immediately attack is "hostility." Instead, calmly explain your position and stand by it. Think of it as "turning the other cheek." You aren't giving in, just showing humility. Strong, firm humility, something that some of the greatest leaders this world has ever known have possessed. People tend to respect that. And you can still go to the authorities if needed. Who knows, you might end up making less enemies that way.
Know the difference. There is a difference between "uncomfortable" and "immoral/unethical". Being asked to fill out an eviction papers on a family because they haven't paid their rent is uncomfortable and sad, but still ethical. This is because they knew how things work and what they were getting themselves into. However, selling a bad loan to a family with the hope and/or knowledge that they won't be able to pay and you and/or your employer will benefit by the possession of their home, is immoral and unethical. That is because it is lying and deceiving them into believing they are getting into a good deal when in fact they aren't, as well as the bad motives of the loan seller, are what makes this so bad.
It won't always be easy to decide. If your boss told you to go rob or steal or something obvious, you wouldn't do it. But ethics in real life are not that obvious. You may be doing something right now that is unethical. That is why it is important to take a personal inventory of yourself, and even get the opinion of someone you trust, to see how you are really doing.
In conclusion, what I have put here is only a small portion of what can be said on the subject. It's vast, but yet so simple. Be good, have faith, press forward, and things work out. Maybe not the way we hope, but they work out.