Don’t Kill the Messenger

No one loves the messenger who brings bad news.” (Sophocles)

Character assassination in politics has become a normal way to take out competition. Truthfulness of accusations are no longer a concern. The focus is on winning and winning alone. The end justifies the means. It also underscores the difference between so-called success and genuine success. True success is ethical.

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Thomas came to me absolutely shattered. He confided in me of a terrible situation where his career was about to be destroyed. As I listened to his story, identifying the elements of chaos, it was especially heartbreaking. You see, Thomas was a church elder. He was asked to deliver the results of a polling of church members. And the organization splintered after the message was delivered. 

The church was organized with a plurality of leadership responsibilities. Thomas was the “face” of the organization. He was the one who stood up before the congregation each week and delivered a sermon. Other leaders held different responsibilities. One was in charge of finances, another marketing, and so on. 

This organization had a chairman of the elders. His primary function was to coordinate leadership meetings and ensure their decisions were executed. Yet as Thomas’ narrative unfolded, it became clear the chairman desired more than just coordinate. 

At that time the church did not have its own worship facility. They rented out venues and operated a successful outreach to its community. However, it was no secret the chairman believed it was time for a building program. 

Thomas had been delivering a series of sermons on responsibility to the community. He was approached by key lay persons and several of the other elders. They asked him if he would deliver a message to the chairman that they believed their monies would be better spent at that time on the community work. 

When Thomas delivered the message, the chairman began to blame Thomas for the people’s decision. He accused Thomas of using the public speaking platform to undermine his authority. He then warned Thomas, “You will see how you were wrong to tell me this.” 

Thomas didn’t fully appreciate the warning. By the time he was seeking my counsel, the chairman had released a smear campaign against my client. Unsubstantiated allegations of inappropriate funding were delivered in a letter addressed to leaders across that denomination. Even though Thomas had nothing to do with handling the finances and was only one vote on the executive committee, no outsider was made aware of those details. His character was slandered. 

The chairman soon resigned. It took several months for the organization to regain its momentum. However, it took several years to repair the relationship between the two men. 

When you reach a level of success that holds great responsibility, it will take ethics to sustain that success. 

Challenge: Ethics is an expression of respect for others. Do I view myself as above the rules for social order? 

Morality as per Sylvester & Tweety

Years ago, I was asked to prepare teenagers for their university education. The assignment was part of a series to help those who grew up with a Christian faith. Public education has an inbuilt bias to preserve its Religion of Secularism.

I recently came upon these notes researching for a book I am writing about Ethics. I thought I would share these with you even though they are dated. Trying to reason with bright teenagers about morality was a seemingly impossible task! Nevertheless, the sessions were valuable for both teens and me. Hope they can add value to your journey.

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Note #3 – Sylvester the Cat and Tweety Bird.

Sylvester the cat wants to eat Tweety Bird. Just as he is about to put the little yellow morsel into his mouth, up pops two miniatures of Sylvester himself. One is angelic and the other a demonic image of himself. Each sits on the opposite shoulder and whispers their counsel into Sylvester’s ears.

Is this just a cartoon feature? How about neo-Platonic morality developed by Augustine and encouraged later by later thinkers known as absolutists!

You may be surprised to learn preaching what is moral has not been limited to the church pulpit. There are several systems of principles that have been developed over time. These systems are the practical application to particular beliefs. Your university education will expose you to diverse beliefs.

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The science of moral philosophy is known as ethics. The terms ethics and morality are synonymous. They both are derived from words which mean customs and indicate how people are to behave within a given Society.

Ethics is derived from the Greek term, ethika, a derivative itself from ethos, emphasizing character with customs.

Morals is the equable derivative of the Latin term, mores. Mores has been transported into English to mean rules related to the conduct, manners and behavior of people to others.

Sylvester and Tweety as Food

As a branch of philosophy, ethics belongs to the normative sciences. Normative has to do with what is the norm of human conduct. This type of science differs from the formal sciences like mathematics and the empirical sciences such as social sciences. Normative science takes place when psychology scrutinizes the social conditions involved in developing moral principles.

Ethics as a disciple is a collection of “doctrines” which govern social manners. The use of the term “doctrine” is very familiar to you as a Christian. It is the same term used by non-Christians in philosophical discussions. In Western Civilization, these doctrines have been debated since the 6th century BC. Philosophers still strive to articulate what is good and right.

When you begin your university training, you will find yourself inside the chambers where morals are still under debate. That is why it is important you understand ethical principles and how they relate to your Christian values.

Posts in this series:

Morality Is A Behavior Code

Years ago, I was asked to prepare teenagers for their university education. The assignment was part of a series to help those who grew up with a Christian faith. Public education has an inbuilt bias to preserve its Religion of Secularism.

I recently came upon these notes researching for a book I am writing about Ethics. I thought I would share these with you even though they are dated. Trying to reason with bright teenagers about morality was a seemingly impossible task! Nevertheless, the sessions were valuable for both teens and me. Hope they can add value to your journey.

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Note #1 – Morality has become associated as a code of behavior. The philosophers believed a certain conduct would lead to happiness.

The early church taught, “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6). The pursuit of happiness is not the deportment of Christianity; but rather the pursuit of godly living—living in a way that is God-like. It is not the arrogant pursuit of being gods as Adam and Eve erred (Genesis 3:5) but a contentment to live as God directs in accordance to His word.

From the very beginning, God has been interested in His creation doing what He says to bring them the greater benefit (Genesis 3:11). Philosophy can rob you of God’s blessings if you are not careful (Colossians 2:8). Nonetheless, there is an agreed precept between philosophy and Biblical Christianity: your contentment in life can be found when following a code of behavior.

The Bible assumes you are capable of moral actions. There are certain actions which you are bound to perform. The obligations performed as a social duty are, definition, acts of morality. Each Society adjust the rules, but one fact remains: morality is associated with you keeping accepted rules.

Waiter

For instance, most people do not tip in a restaurant here in New Zealand. It is considered immoral for an employer to not provide servers with full wages. With the provision, tipping is not a necessary part of the server’s wages. However, in the United States, it is customary to tip a server regardless of any wages being received. The respective customs reflect differing moral standards for its Society.

At university, you will be given guide-lines and expectations for your behavior. Jump up and down all you want about your individual rights! It won’t make a difference. Whenever individuals join together, there must be agreement on a set of rules. Otherwise, chaos results and there will be no order for your educational environment.

Social Responsibility

It is impossible to create a system of Ethics from a position of isolation.

Universal principles about giving are now recognized within business operations. “To give is better than to receive.” The difficulty for Corporate is that receiving is the essence of their existence. Statistical data may indicate higher receipts if you give back and for some is the sole only motivation for a Corporate to adopt/partner with a cause.

It is the heart of the giver—not the act—that counts.

Sally informed me once how she was paying claims for a national insurance company. The claim was going through its normal process of investigation and delay. The claimant finally rang Sally and challenged the process. You see, the claimant was suffering from a particular type of cancer that the insurance company advertised as a supporting partner in its research.

Sally brought this to the attention of her manager. The manager then directed Sally to upper management. There they ruled in favor of the claimant to expedite the case. Why? Because they believe in their cause?

No, it was for the sake of public relations.

I’m afraid that many businesses adopt a cause solely for PR purposes. In other words, it’s about what they get instead of what they give. It is very difficult for money driven, profit obsessed organizations to embrace altruism. Yet their survival is dependent upon that very act: embracing the desire to give back.

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Yves Smith posted a story on nakedcaptialism.com titled, “Corporate Greed is Killing Investment” (March 6, 2015). The essence of his argument is that the fixation on quarterly earnings sacrifices longer-term performance for short term gains. The obsession on ensuring shareholders are happy seems to be at the cost of prudent expenditures.

Challenge: Ethics is about giving for the benefit of others and not for self- promotion. Are your money decisions based on what is best for future generations? Or are you making financial decisions to meet an immediate desire?

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History of the “Success” Concept

In reviewing material from a past interview, I was fascinated by a particular question. I was asked to give “a storytelling tour into the history of “success”.’ I wanted to preserve my response. The link to the complete interview is at the bottom of the page. I’d be interested in your thoughts!

My favorite place to start telling the story of success is with Moses’s successor. Moses was a nation builder schooled in Egypt and raised in royalty. He led his countrymen to new territory, gave them a civil code, and probably introduced to them their written language. How could such a giant be succeeded?

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That was the concern of Joshua, the one chosen to continue what Moses started. Joshua was encouraged to meditate and observe his actions to discover prosperity and ‘success’. He was empowered to do what Moses could not. Joshua’s story embodies all what we call success today. From Hebrew scripture, we learn Jewish culture connected success with independence, freedom, and abundance. It also introduces success as being sourced from spirituality.

As humankind evolved to unite nations through military conquests, the one-world superpower of Babylon was created under Nebuchadnezzar. Many assume that reaching ultimate power would define success; however, history records it differently.

The world’s most powerful leader went through a season of insanity. After several years, Nebuchadnezzar was healed. His public decree following the incident elevated wisdom, not power, as true success. It is one of the reasons why I emphasize in my book that success is not fame or fortune; it is living a life of fulfilment. The prominence of the Magi within the Chaldean culture confirms success was associated with wisdom.

Wise Men

The Greek philosophers give us insight into the next era of success. Plato’s ‘Republic’ is an articulation of collective success. It stands in contrast to individuals being successful. Although this era of democracy was strong, its balance was a collective rule through supposed wise leaders. The Greek idealism is a full development of what we first saw with the Hebrews and later Chaldeans. However, the modern era emphasized success as an individual empowerment.

The modern era roughly began with the American Revolution. It promoted the Greek ideal of ‘people power’ alongside the need for a Republic. This allowed individuals to pursue personal liberty within legal boundaries. Entrepreneurship was liberated for any person of race, birth, creed, or social standing to pursue. Entrepreneurship embodied the modern ideal of success.

You refer to success as ‘controversial’. In post-modern thought, there is more emphasis on the collective than the individual. Any controversy would be rooted inside scarcity thinking. The scarcity mind-set views life as a pie. If someone is successful, they are taking a larger portion of the pie which is consider unfair to fellow beings. However, success is rooted in abundant thinking. There is no desire to take from others. It is the thinking that the universe intends for me to utilize all that is available and if others want success, another pie can be baked. In fact, successful people desire to show others how to bake that pie.

The story of success is one in transition. Society’s ideals change as humanity evolves. It is why my sequel deals with 56 Notions of Ethics. Ethical Success is more important in post-modernism than individual success. The transition is why I believe there is no one set pattern for success. Every person is unique. Success for one person will not look the same in another. However, the principles of success preserved through time remain: independence, freedom, abundance, wisdom, liberty.

Link to complete Interview

Link to book: 56 Notions of Success

How to action goals for achieving success

Do you feel like you can never accomplish your goals?

Are you being held back from practical achievements? Are you struggling with finishing what you start? Are you losing hope you can fulfil your dreams? Don’t lose hope – there is help!

It begins by knowing how to break-down your goal into mini-steps.

The secret to achieving goals is not rocket science. Its method is usually taught by life coaches and fee-paying workshops. They are ‘secret’ only because people do not take the time and energy to put the lessons into practice.

Accomplishing your goals takes more than just identifying them. There are further actions that must be thought through before building your dream career. Sometimes people rush into fulfilling their dream before understanding the “how” to make it a reality. In the words of Steven Covey, author of the classic self-help book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: “Always begin with the end in mind.”

Magic Compass

The diagram above expands the Results section of the compass used in 56 Notions of Success workshops.

  • North is Action—formulate success to gain results
  • West is Results—action your goals for practical achievements.

To formulate the steps toward your goal, never neglect the value of ethics. It is not just about you; it is about achieving the maximum good for all those you touch. You must do the hard work of upholding the Golden Rule while preserving the Golden Mean.

Artistotle Excellence

Practical Exercise

    1. Review your business plan to make sure the desired result is clearly identified.
    2. Adjust your business plan to incorporate your core values in every aspect.
    3. Now take each identified milestone and create a plan of action to reach each one.
    4. Fully concentrate on one milestone at a time and focus on achieving just the milestone, instead of the overall end goal.

Focusing on achieving your overall plan one milestone at a time creates the habit of success. Your business plan will give you steps to achieve a goal. Your milestones, each with their own steps to achieve, are mini-goals. Mini-goals are how you create a habit of success.

Success is not becoming a superstar: that is Fame. Success is fulfilling and exceeding your personal goals.

Timothy Rose, author, 56 Notions of Success

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Keeping the Fire for Goals

Did you have a hard time staying motivated?

Have you ever been really excited to start a project only to lose the enthusiasm? Is there something dampening the fire in your belly burning to reach a target? Are you wanting to give up seeing no reason to finish a task? Don’t lose hope—there is help!

It begins by focusing on the central purpose of any project.

How to keep motivated usually emphasizes focus on the end goal. Focusing is correct, but not on the end goal. The secret of those who enjoy “good” success is not usually taught.

You must focus on your intention to reach the goal, not the goal itself.

To achieve a goal at the expense of others is to lose, not win. To believe it is a win reveals a warfare mentality. The marketplace today requires a new paradigm: winning ethically! Ethics is—and always will be—at the heart of good success.

 

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A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world. Albert Camus

 

By definition, ethics is appropriate conduct. Your actions are always conducted in relation to society in general and your immediate contacts in particular. Living your life in a way to assist others brings happiness. It is not helping others to obtain happiness: that is egoism. It is offering hope selflessly without promoting selfish agendas.

We acknowledge that ethical success creates leaders. Leadership responsibilities need to be reflected in your business plan. Dream big with your plans and others will come along for the ride. You will attract clients, contacts, and colleagues to propel you to your goals. Take heed to the warning of Immanuel Kant, one of the central figures in modern philosophy:

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So, we come to the crux of the matter: Goals. Your business plan, to become an effective road map, must have its destination clearly identified and marked. You need to answer four questions.

  1. What results do you need to prove your achievement of your Goals?
  2. What areas do you need to consider in order to have Goals of Value?
  3. What things do need to keep motivated? Achievement of your goals don’t just happen; they are created. And lastly,
  4. What actions do you need to take to reach your Goals?

There is a connection between diligence and prosperity. Prosperity is not measured by physical accomplishments but by inner character. Be sure your business plan reflects your life goals before calculating what is needed to do to accomplish them. Without thoughtful, planned commitment, your goals will remain as unaccomplished dreams

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