Don’t Cheat

iStock_000015935708XSmallSometimes, cheaters get caught.

Here in the US, Major League Baseball recently announced suspensions for players who took performance-enhancing drugs from the Biogenesis lab in Miami. The biggest penalty went to the New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez who was suspended for 211 games (through the 2014 season).

International track and field stars Tyson Gay, Asafa Powell, and Sherone Simpson face bans after recently testing positive for prohibited stimulants.

The global headlines are filled with other examples of cheaters getting caught.

Some cheating is more “local” – within our own hearts, minds, and bodies.

We might, for example, choose to cheat on our diet by scarfing down the last donut in the box in the break room when no one is looking.

We might choose to cheat on our spouses with risqué sexting or even one-night flings, thinking that no one will know.

We might choose to kick our golf ball from the rough into the fairway when our playing partners are otherwise engaged.

Some cheaters take unfair advantage. Some cheaters take credit. And, sometimes cheaters don’t get caught.

What causes people to cheat? Is it power, prestige, or maybe pride? Could it be driven by fear of failure?

Creative reasoning doesn’t excuse cheating.

No matter how the cheater justifies his or her actions, the act of cheating erodes his or her integrity a bit. (Maybe a lot.)

We, each of us, have choices. There are “logical consequences” to everything we do.

If we eat a healthy diet and exercise daily, we keep off excess weight, feel stronger, and have fewer illnesses. If we eat junk food and don’t exercise, we gain weight, feel lousy, and are sick more often.

If we take credit for a lower number of strokes on our golf scorecard than we actually made, we’re inflating our golf skills – in our minds and in other’s minds. That may work in the moment, but over time our true skill set will reveal itself.

If we say we’ve done something we promised work team members we would do, but haven’t actually done it, there are logical consequences. We may have to stay up late to get that task done right. We may have to ask for help to get the task done properly and on time.

The right path is always available to us.

The right path the one that lets us sleep soundly – that doesn’t require us to keep track of the “story” we told to cover our tracks (when we went off the path!).

The right path requires us to take proactive personal responsibility for our plans, decisions, and actions. It requires that we inform others if a promise made may be at risk because of an unforeseen delay, for example, from a vendor.

The right path requires that we make our commitments intentionally and track them religiously. Keeping our promises makes the right path bright, wide, and well lit as we travel down it.

Our world, at this point in time, desperately needs people of integrity at every level of every organization.

Do your part. You’re going to be here, doing stuff, anyway – so, stay on the right path.

What inspires you to “keep on the path” and resist the temptation to “cut corners” in life or at work? Contribute your thoughts about this post/podcast in the comments section below.

What is it like to live in your organization’s culture? Share your experiences in my fast & free Performance-Values Assessment. Results and analysis are described on my blog’s research page.

This research can help you refine your organization’s corporate culture. Contact me to discuss conducting the Performance-Values Assessment in your company.

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  • Mark Deterding

    Chris, Harvard did a study that found that 85% of a leader’s performance depended on their character. Character consists of moral knowing, moral feeling, and moral behavior. We know what is right, we have a gut feel for what is right, and the key is whether or not that we do (behave) what is right. Norman Schwarzkopf said that “Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character, but if you must be without one, be without strategy”. And John Wooden says that character is what you do when no one is looking. Cheating certainly erodes one’s character! Thanks for the focus on this important issue.

    • Thanks, Mark – the Harvard research is extremely powerful. You’re exactly right – character is revealed by our plans, decisions, and actions. Whether we’re aligned or cheating is plain for others to see.

      Best to you!

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