• May 2015
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Ethical Edge Letters on Integrity  

Click here for Russell Williams' bio

Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Be a 'Character Closer'
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Become a Hero of Integrity in the making
What do I honor?

“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.”
— William James

The moral and ethical life of an individual is like a two-sided coin. The moral life asks one question by looking within oneself, while the ethical life asks the same question looking to the world of relationships.

The edge of the coin symbolically holds the common question: What do I honor? Ultimately, there are two distinct ways that this question can be answered: Do I honor feelings or do I honor behavior? How an individual answers that question determines the nature of his or her values and the way one connects to his or her world.

Yes, moral and ethical predictability follows in the wake of the question: What do I honor? Said differently, individuals and organizations define themselves by this fundamental question. How so? The Ethical Edge mission of inspiring ethical excellence is premised on the message that moral and ethical discovery is pursued by individuals who courageously explore the question of honor in relationships with others. All wisdom literature, both secular and religious, confirms this fact.

So, let’s explore the premise that no man is an island. Said, differently, we live in relationship to self and others. If our personal feelings define the measurement of relating to ourselves and others, we will always behave seeking to make ourselves feel good. Consequently, behavior will always be premised on what I am getting from someone in order to feel good. In contrast, if my Good is found in relationship, then I will discover that seeking my Good is fulfilled in what I am giving to enhance the good of others. Feeling good for myself alone is subjective; expressing good for myself and others is objective.

In business the subjective storyline of what do you honor plays out as organizations pursue feeling good about profits independent of the means of producing them. Business has a name for this kind of good feeling: greed. What if sustainable profitability can only be objectified by honoring our professional relationships with others? Often, the moral and ethical fog of businesses and professional leaders is seen in the failed regard to respect the human capital that produces corporate profitability.

Mission Integrity Action

What do you honor this week as you go about your relationship-building at home, at work and in the community? Put yourself to the test by asking yourself: What do I honor, my feelings or my behavior? Explore this fundamental question of the moral and ethical life.

Russell Williams,
Passkeys Foundation/Ethical Edge