The law is absolutely necessary, and must be followed for society to work, but the law should not be used as excuse for bad behavior.
Just because it’s legal, doesn’t make it right.
Enter the insidious creature we turn loose to excuse bad or unethical behavior. The “yeah-but.” You’ve heard it and I’ve probably used it.
“Yeah, but it’s legal.”
Yeah-buts walk up to the legal line. Maybe, it’s withholding important information. Yeah, but it’s legal.
“Yeah, but,” illustrates how we, as human beings, have lowered our standards related to doing what is right for the sake of doing what is right.
We’ve lost sight of a virtuous definition of winning. Is winning getting what we want at any cost, despite the impact on those around us? Or, is it doing what’s right — even when it’s not popular?
Ask yourself, “In my industry, what is an area that is generally accepted to be technically correct — but not forthcoming with my customers?” Sure, it’s legal to place stipulations in a contract intended to put the other party at a disadvantage, but is doing so creating a high-trust relationship?
You and I are writing the story of our individual lives with every decision and action. What if we set doing right as priority one so that story is something we’re proud to tell? What if a win was being considered a trustworthy, ethical person, who is the first to be referred and the first to be considered for future business?
“Well, she/he follows the law,” doesn’t usually result in repeat customers. Clients demand more.
“No one trusts the government to get anything right. So if all you’re doing is complying with minimum standards, then you immediately wrap yourself up in the government’s shroud of ineptitude. You must go higher,” Frank Luntz, writes in his book, “Win: The Key Principles to Take Your Business from Ordinary to Extraordinary.”
Follow the law, and always operate legally, yet at the same time, leave the yeah-buts behind. Win honorably and do what is right, just because it’s right.
DALE DIXON IS CHIEF INNOVATION OFFICER OF THE BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU NORTHWEST. 342-4649, DALE.DIXON@THEBBB.ORG.