Today I am reminded of the last line of the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” In business and in our professional lives, as it is in our personal lives, it begins with ‘me‘. When we understand that, we make a quantum leap towards taking responsibility for our decisions and owning our actions.
Every organization, group, company, executive, board, council, task force or team, is made up of a me, a me and another and yet another me. When a group announces a decision, which may manifest the absence of decency, professionalism, fairness and integrity, it is easy for ever individual ‘me’ to hide behind the anonymity-granting cloak of the organization. So we trot out phrases like “the organization decided…”, or “the company’s position is that…” Organizations and companies are not living breathing organisms capable of making decisions. Decisions are made by individuals. It begins with each and every ‘me’.
Can we own our part in the decisions of the group? Can we say “I don’t agree”, if something contravenes your spirit of decency, fairness and sense of integrity, and throws off our moral compass? The need to pay the bills, often forces us to sanction the popular ‘we’ vote (not wanting to be an upstream swimmer) or the most powerful ‘mighty’ vote (see management, I am a good ‘yes’ employee who doesn’t rock boats) instead of owning a ‘me’ position. Sometimes your ‘me’ position, even if fair, decent and honest’ may not be the winning position, but you should at least voice it. If not, your lot, if you are guided by conscience, may be sleepless nights because as part of the herd, you sanctioned an indecent decision … one that ‘the company’ made, though it did not sit right in your craw.
This is where leadership becomes critical, because except in anomalous situations where the tail wags the dog, an organization takes its tone from the head. There is a proverb which says ‘crooked stick, crooked shadow” – so if the head of the river is dirty … what do you expect downstream? The leader too, will often hide behind the cloak of the anonymity-granting organization in making unpopular decisions, instead of saying “I know you may not agree but I made the decision because x or y.”
In fine, let us work towards being guided by a our personal ethics and a personal mantra which says “Let there be goodness, kindness, decency, integrity, fairness, balance and honesty in our business and professional affairs, and let it all begin with me. The universe is not asleep to our personal and professional lives and stores these positive acts in its DNA and payback does come, for good or bad. Let it begin with me … Own it!
About the Author
Joan Andrea Hutchinson is a Public Speaking Coach, Communications Specialist, Remedial Language Teacher, English Language Guru, Writer, Storyteller, Actress, Motivational Speaker and Teacher. She is also a producer and presenter for radio and TV. She has been writing poems and stories in the Jamaican Patois dialect for more than 20 years.
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