Over the last two weeks on LinkedIn we’ve had a discussion based on the article on this site called “When Markets Overwhelm Morals.” Reviewing a book that covered two hundred years of slavery in the US, I wrote: ” In the face of the economic gain to be earned from the work of slaves, the call of morality had little sway. Growing wealth dulled our forefathers’ ability to sense moral unrest.”
Dzadzua: Start with Ourselves
Malkhaz Dzadzua, CEO of Crystal Microfinance in the country of Georgia, wrote this in response:
When moral values collide with economic interests, the latter usually win. Unfortunately, we see this tendency during the whole history of humanity (just a few rare exceptions) and today’s world is not much better in this context.
If we want to change this, we should start from ourselves: do not compromise our moral values to achieve some career or other goals, give right examples to others and take more responsibility towards our community and planet.
‘Justice is the sum of all moral duty’ – William Godwin
My follow up to Malkhaz:
Thanks, Malkhaz. I agree. The problem I see is that even people with high moral standards can abandon them, or at least forget about them for a while when large financial gains are involved. What do you think we can do to keep ourselves accountable to the values we hold when we are tempted to do otherwise?
Eduarte 1: Articulate our Values
Jenna Eduarte said this in response:
Being accountable means knowing what you are accountable for. We need to first articulate our values and then ask ourselves, “How do I express those values in behavioral terms?” It is interesting to know that not a lot of people have really sat down to identify their own values. It is easy to say that one’s values are this and that but when asked how they demonstrate them on a daily basis they find it difficult to describe the values in behavioral terms. A clearly articulated set of values helps us make better life and business decisions on matters that may compromise our values. Our values become the compass, a measuring stick or a weighing scale when making decisions.
I followed up with Jenna by asking her a couple more questions:
Great to hear from you, Jenna! And great answer. I think you’re right. Too often we talk about our values as if we have already decided what they are, but when asked to articulate them it might take us a while. I agree that taking the time to articulate them and then measure actions against them are important. Some questions for you:
Eduarte 2: “Brutal Conversations” with Mentors
Jenna gave a very thoughtful and vulnerable response, which I wanted to make sure others got a chance to see:
I couldn’t resist participating in the discussion as it is a topic that I’m interested in and close to my heart. I’ve been running sessions on values articulation and it brings so much joy seeing people understand the need and recognize the worth of articulating one’s values. Anyway, I compare my actions with my values as often as I am confronted with an issue that needs a tough decision. And I do that before and after I make the decision. I also journal so that helps in clarifying any doubts that I may have about the action that I will take or have taken. I’ve learned that not everyone will be happy with decisions that I made based on my values. I’ve also learned that people will not be happy because they will look at such decision from the perspective of their own values. Yes, I involve other people that I trust in the assessment. I used to have monthly/quarterly ‘brutal’ conversations with my mentors. We now only do that at least once a year or more when the need arises since we don’t live in the same country anymore. I’m having one of those conversations in the next couple of weeks and it would interesting if I get any ‘bruises’ this time. 😅😀
What About You?
Do you agree with Jenna that the best way for us to maintain our values is to: 1) Define our values; 2) Refer to those values every time we make a big decision; and 3) Meet with mentors once or twice a year to receive their input on how well our decisions and actions have aligned with our values?
Feel free to give your thoughts in the comments box below.