The Value of Routine

Success is obtained by a predesigned routine adhered to faithfully. Routine can also sustain success. It keeps you focused on what truly matters when you are tempted to break the rules.

There will be times after you reach success that chaotic circumstances arrive to confuse you. When mentoring one such person we will name Isaac, I stressed the importance of keeping his appointments for coaching. I have learned that when going through difficult patches in life, keeping appointments forces you to continue even when you feel like quitting.

Isaac expressed a feeling of guilt in keeping his appointments. He explained that he felt like he was just surviving from one to the next. He stated he was not being fair to me as his counselor. The reality, of course, was just the opposite. His guilt was false; his routine was enabling survival; and raw truth is the substance in which success can be rediscovered.

From those appointments where days passed in between, Isaac was encouraged to start implementing a bit of reading, meditating, and exercising. At first he could only handle 5 minutes of each. The time spent was not so important as the creation of the habit.

Determine you will grow and keep every new appointment. Reward yourself with something relaxing. Do not feel guilty. You are developing a routine. You are working with a purpose and resting with intent.

Volunteer for some cause. The regular contribution will fill your calendar. You are living! Visualize a life with Hope. It is within your grasp.

I cannot stress how important it is that you create a routine as soon as possible. This is where Religion can be helpful. Regular attendance to their scheduled services sustains a routine. Opportunities to serve others through their ministries enhance your routine.

Do what you must to develop weekly activities and hold yourself accountable to keep these commitments. You will find Hope opening its door as you develop a routine through Life.

And this is the fascinating intersection of Ethics with Religion.

Being reared with a heavy influence of the religious community, I was always under the impression that ethics is an extension of religion. Imagine how surprised I was once I learned to read classical literature. Discovering that ethics preceded western Christianity was revolutionary. However, to pretend the great sages of old did not have spiritual ideologies is equivalent to burying one’s head in the sand.

Religion is “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods” (Oxford Dictionary Press). In practice, stripped to its core, Religion is merely routine. It is a set of practices (worship) that exercise their core values (belief). In this sense, Ethics and Religion are one and the same.

Ethics is a faithful adherence to what is perceived as good and right. This begins with integrity. Integrity is being true to one’s self. This practice of self-truthfulness in action expands to a practice of truthfulness in relationships with others. Ethics is the working out of personalized truths and in this sense shares a practice on par with Religion.

Religion did not give birth to Ethics. It is the other way around. The point is that so-called “non-religious” persons are often ethical because of their religious-like practices. They may not belong to a particular worship of God or gods; yet their life is full of routine that elevates values beyond themselves.

And it is the emphasis of this routine that keeps our actions consistent with ethical values.

“Business is Business” is Bullocks

The following is an excerpt from upcoming book, 56 Notions of Ethics

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

One of the most difficult attitudes to deal with in business is the attitude that there is a difference between business decisions and personal decisions. I know you’ve heard it: “It’s not personal, it’s just business.” The statement is given as if it is an axiom of truth.

It could not be further from the truth.

Underlying the statement is a belief in two sets of ethics: one for business relationships and one for personal relationships. Ethics are ethics! There are not two different standards for behavior. People are people. Whether the context is business relationships or personal relationships, both are dealing with acceptable conduct between persons.

There simply is no such thing as “business ethics”.

Nor is there a difference between business relationships and personal relationships. Business deals with people. That makes its relationship “personal”. What is being exchanged is more than money for goods: there is an exchange of value based on trust. People are willing to release the fruit of their hard earned labor when they trust they are receiving something of equal or superior value. The relationship, even in a business context, is literally a personal one.

I was once called to a meeting as a witness. A particular sales agent we will name Silvia was caught in the middle of a controversy. Her high performance encouraged management to ignore details of previous sales. However, this time, it appeared Silvia had forged signatures on a contract.

When questioned, Silvia confessed that the signatures were not that of the applicant. She justified the outcome by stating her managers wanted high production that week. They instructed her to “do whatever it takes” to meet her target. In her mind, she was being true to her instruction. She was being a team player. A matter of legality was inconvenient. The law existed only as a guide, not a rule.

In many ways, Sylvia was a product of her environment. Her company lacked ethics. They had no enforced culture of accountability except that of the law. That meant agents had no rules to operate by within the context of their job, “so long as it was legal.”

John Maxwell, in his work titled, There Is No Such Thing As “Business” Ethics, explains that when an organization is dependent on the law as its standard for ethics, that organization is morally bankrupt.

The Company was guilty of thinking Sylvia’s personal actions could be separated from the Company’s business decisions. They were caught out because both had the Law as a backstop. That meant “anything goes” on the playing field until the ball hits the backstop. It is like trying to play softball without rules.

A business without clearly identifiable values to which they are held accountable is a business morally bankrupt. Success is not fulfilling a selfish goal, it is adding value. Value to the lives of others as well as your own. Values are created in the context of society not selfishness.

Many sales persons create their own values in a vacuum. They justify unethical behavior believing it is a path to Success. Reaching a position of success does not entitle you to unfettered behavior. It actually does the opposite. The more successful you become the more you need to be held accountable.

Truly successful organizations create a Code of Conduct and hold themselves accountable. Such public action creates trust and enforces value in their market relationship. Ethically-based value is more powerful in the marketplace then newly earned Success.

Challenge: Ethics incorporates an unconscious power created by relationships. Do I use that power to add value in the lives of others? Or do I use that power to promote my personal agenda?

Love – the Greatest Ethical Test

The greatest ethical test that we’re ever going to face is the treatment of those who are at our mercy – Lyn White

Love is a very powerful word. It is also misunderstood. Applying it to a business context may not make sense. Perhaps it will when you understand what the term actually means.

Ethics is loving others like you would love yourself. In this context, love is not sexual intercourse or erotic interaction. It is best understood as charity. The famous “love chapter” quoted by many from the Christian Bible was originally written in Greek. The first English translations rendered the text as charity, not love.. Exercising charity is the best way to understand how a business operates in love.

That does not mean business have to give away their profit.

Being charitable means businesses (people) treat their customers in the same way they want their customers to treat them.

It’s called the Golden Rule.

And because there is no such thing as business ethics and there is no difference between business and personal relationships, the Golden Rule is adhered to by good businesses.

Coming to grips with an appropriate understanding of love is important. Many ethical dilemmas are resolved straight-away. Not only between business and customer but also between workers within an organization.

Let me illustrate through someone we will refer to as Fred.

Fred took on a new position with a corporation. He was assigned to work under a female manager. Their synergy produced amazing results for the company. They were connected on so many levels that Fred began to wonder if their connection was more than just work related. After all, they had spent time together outside of the office working on their projects, including restaurants, workshops, and even social activities.

That is when he crossed the line.

Misunderstanding feelings of compatibility and shared values, Fred asked his manager out on a date. She flatly rejected him and their working relationship came to an end. Confused and dejected, he came to me for counsel. Fred learned he crossed an ethical boundary. He subconsciously assumed a charitable working relationship was one and the same as a having a soul mate.

Understanding love as charity helps to clarify relationships. It also increases our responsibility.

Charity, in the literal sense of the word, is a disposition of heart which inclines a person to think favorably of others. That is why it is associated with benevolence and good will. In a business context, that means you treat all customers fairly whether you like them or not. In many ways business is a better example to individuals on this principle.

It also means business has a responsibility to ensure their products and services genuinely help others. It moderates false claims and exaggerated benefits.

Many times people in their personal lives exercise prejudice. Yet the same person, if they were in business for themselves, would be willing to accept money from those they look down their noses at in their personal life. The hypocrisy reveals what is truly valued. People are not as prejudiced as they pretend.

Equal treatment of your fellow human being is the basis of a just society. That point is so embedded into our psyche that ethical behavior casts its net to include human treatment of animals and the planet itself. A 3,000 year old proverb from the Middle East testifies: “a good man regards the life of his cattle.”

Surely if we can understand the responsibility to treat animals with respect, we can treat our fellow human beings with charity? Including those we don’t like?

Challenge: Ethics is viewing others with equal respect. Am I hypocritical with prejudicial behavior?

Helping the Hurting in Myanmar

Virtues of Character

“The man who possesses character excellence does the right thing, at the right time, and in the right way.” – Aristotle

Success is a manifestation of your character. Who you are reveals itself in what you accomplish. Obtaining your success reveals outwardly for all to see what you possess within your person. It is a revelation of your very being.

Ethical success is the work to sustain your accomplishments in a worthy fashion. By this I mean you demonstrate your product or service as something valuable to the marketplace. You can only do this when you recognize that business is an extension of relationships.

And you must understand the depth of the term, virtue.

In today’s English virtue is simply moral excellence. It is a term set aside to express goodness and righteousness. We say that a virtuous person is someone who is good and does the right thing at the right time.

The foundation of today’s English understanding of virtue is built on a deeper meaning. At the turn of the 19th century virtue was a term expressing strength. A person of virtue possessed a substance in physical body. That is not a body builder of muscles but one of inner quality. It is the ability to be strong when tempted to compromise values. That means he does the right things or physically acts out an inner force of potent character.

The intense vigor of fortitude is connected to the English root in its Latin origin. Virtus is from vireo meaning worth. In its radical sense it means strength from straining, stretching, and extending oneself. In other words, it is not something you are born with but something that is gained through faithfulness to your values during times when you are tempted to compromise.

In business, you will be tempted to compromise your values in order to sustain your profit margin. Character is built by sticking with what you know is right even if it might cost you your profit. Truthfully, what really happens is you find a way to make things work through the hard times.

By focusing on the quality of your service you do not have to compromise the quantity of your product. Would you rather stay at a Hilton property or a Motel 6? Hilton does not compromise by devaluing its product. It does the opposite! It promotes its quality and retains leadership within the service sector.

The Latin basis for our English term virtue is why bravery and valor were definitions that preceded moral goodness. It takes guts to sustain your success in an ethical fashion. As Noah Webster explained in his 1828 dictionary, “Virtue is nothing but voluntary obedience to truth.”

Are you marketing something that is truthful? If so you can sustain your success without compromising your values. To do so develops character in you and your business.

The Greek term for virtue in New Testament time was areté (ar-et’-ay). It is goodness expressed through gracious acts. The acts are intentionally practiced to enrich one’s own life and business. By loving yourself in a proper sense you will treat your staff and clients properly.

Aristotle lived well before the New Testament was written. His belief was that genuine happiness lies in action that leads to virtue. To Aristotle, moral virtue was the only practical path to effective action.

If you want your business to sustain its success, you must behave in the right manner. This means you don’t go to extremes. You don’t “butter up” your clients nor do you take advantage of them. You offer a quality service for the right reasons.

Ethical success happens when you receive your personal power that lies within your being. You will attract financial abundance when you stay in touch with all that is naturally upright.

Strive to inherently know how to get what you need with virtue.

Challenge: Ethics is an expression of inner character. Am I doing the right things for the right reasons to sustain success? Or am I justifying my actions with shortcuts?

Timothy Rose, Author, 56 Notions of Success

Fidelity in Relationships

I think the key indicator for wealth is not good grades, work ethic, or IQ. I believe it’s relationships. ― Jarod Kintz

56 Notions of Ethics is being written with the idea that you have reached your desired goal and now you will be tempted with ethical decisions to sustain success. You have landed in new territory. You haven’t been here before. You look all around and can easily become tempted with the trappings of success.

This is where many a business owner and manager forget about the people that helped them reach their goal. Ethical success means you remain faithful in your relationships. Fidelity is lost when you lose the big picture. Having achieved your goal, you plateau. There is no willingness to go on to the bigger picture. You want to partake in selfish glory.

Elizabeth came to me for advice on how to handle her manager. She was doing her best to fulfill her job description but he was accusing her of altering contracts. She insisted she had done no such thing and was distraught with the accusation.

Obviously there is no advice for her on how to handle her manager. The advice was directed towards how to handle herself whilst working for such a person.

As the narrative unfolded, it was apparent her manager had altered contracts in the past to meet his sales goals. He assumed that if he was guilty of this act so must be those around him. Crooked managers look through crooked lens and see crookedness in the actions of good staff. Then they wonder why they have a problem with staff loyalty!

Fidelity in relationships is a cornerstone to sustained success.

Unfortunately, many, like Elizabeth’s manager, tend to be paranoid and spend a lot of time analyzing the past. These same energies could be utilized more effectively learning how to do the right thing going forward.

On a darker side, some give in to impulses and sudden desires. After obtaining their desired level of success, they assume it provides a “right” to excess. The temptations usually arrive in the face of new opposition. Assuming that success is not an event, they neglect further development of their selves. They lose real progress and worse, they lose their lack of purpose.

When leaders choose to be unfaithful in their relationships, it indicates a reluctance to complete what was started. The daring actions that led to success are now used to flirt with unethical actions. It appears as if they have lost their nerve and become indecisive where it matters most.

The temptations of Success are not meant to be snares to bring you down. They are opportunities for you to be propelled further upwards. Learning how to triumph in the face of adversity is not limited to one lesson. It is a constant battle. With Success, you learn how to be cunning in battle.

Losing fidelity in relationships usually come at a time when victory was almost in sight. Yet the problem is just that: obvious victory cannot be seen at that point. You have to trust and believe you can manifest to a new level. Move beyond the temptations and actualize your scope of living from a larger standpoint.

You just might have to stand back and ask yourself, “Where am I allowing the details to get in the way of my sustained success?”

Unfaithfulness in relationships is self-sabotaging. Don’t get caught up in psychological warfare. Lead from the front with your eyes focused on the greater good for all.

Challenge: Ethics is faithfulness in relationships. Do I think I deserve to exploit my successes selfishly? Or am I determined to sustain fidelity in all my relationships?

The Power of Contentment

The following is an excerpt from the upcoming sequel to 56 Notions of Success. The new book will be titled, Ethical Success.

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Conscience is the inner voice that warns us somebody may be looking. ― H.L. Mencken

YOU are responsible for determining and exercising what is good, not Society. Society is not a person; you are. Society is a collective of individuals and entities. You cannot hold Society responsible for your behavior. You do what you choose.

And only you are responsible for your own contentment.

Contentment empowers your decisions to find that Golden Mean. It is more powerful than happiness. Happiness can be fleeting; contentment is a steady, constant state of being.

On more than one occasion I have counseled persons on this point. I remember when Doreen came to me distraught. As she told her story she reached a point of anger and proclaimed, “It’s his fault that I’m not content with living and I never will be until he changes.”

Explaining to Doreen that he is not responsible for her contentment was a delicate exercise. That work, however, began with a blunt statement of fact: “Doreen, you and you only are responsible for your contentment. Do not give that power to anyone else.”

Contentment is such a powerful virtue!

Western society wages war on contentment. It bombards its inhabitants with commercialized desires of discontent. We are constantly reminded of what we don’t have and why we supposedly cannot live without these objects.

Contentment, however, does not mean trying to improve your Self. The danger lies in connecting self-improvement with tangible items as proof of growth. That is similar to rewarding yourself food when you are dieting to lose weight. It is self-sabotaging.

Contentment begins when you keep life simple. The number of lands, vehicles, or electronic gadgets cannot determine your contentment. Knowing how to enjoy what you do have is determinate. So often we ignore the beautiful sunsets, birds flying through the air, children laughing, and rivers flowing. Learn to enjoy the simple things and you will discover the power of contentment.

Doreen grew from her experience. She was in a season of life where she required public transportation. The problem was the closest stop to her work was two miles away. Rather than focus on what she didn’t have: a car, a supportive husband, etc, she began to enjoy that two mile walk. She reported that she began to notice things she never saw before: lizards stalking dragonflies, raccoons coming out of the lagoon, rabbits jumping freely, kingfishers on the power lines and herons in the water. She said she felt more rich enjoying the moment than any tangible asset she has ever owned.

And that brings us to another aspect of Contentment: keeping finances streamlined. Unethical expenditures are those spent out of greed or excess. We get so caught up with the unethical commercialized life-style that our money situations become complicated. How many credit cards do you really require? It is no wonder Aristotle taught, “Happiness is self-contentedness.”

Keep your relationships satisfying. That includes work-related ones too. Lasting happiness and security are discovered when ethical behavior yields a good reputation and honor. True friendship and happy family life are also part of the reward for ethical relationships.

Contentment is found in peaceful and secured environments, not in those where others are manipulated for personal gain. Routine might seem like you are “in a rut,” but it is also signals an ordered environment. Don’t look outside of yourself for fulfillment; look within.

Challenge: Ethics begins by staying true to your Self. Do I act with integrity and enjoy contentment as its reward?