“Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.”
—W. Clement Stone
Do you believe in karma? Do you think a person brings upon himself inevitable results, whether they are good or bad?
We’ve all heard the saying “what goes around comes around.” I hope that’s true. And I think it is.
In life, you get what you give. I realize it doesn’t always seem that way. Bryant H. McGill once said, “The world is not fair, and often fools, cowards, liars, and the selfish hide in high places.” He’s right, but that doesn’t mean those people haven’t or won’t pay a dear price. Who knows what their lying, cheating, or selfishness has or will cost them.
It’s not uncommon to watch someone rise to amazing heights, only to come crashing back down. I’m sure many people once admired the success and lifestyle of Bernie Madoff. The man committed an unbelievable fraud that cost many their life savings and destroyed his own life in doing so. He now sits in prison. And he must live with the horrifying fact that one of his two sons committed suicide after turning him in to federal authorities. For a long time, a liar and a cheat seemed to have the world by the tail, and then it all fell to pieces. What goes around comes around.
Adolf Hitler committed suicide. Osama bin Laden was tracked down and killed by the U.S. military. Jerry Sandusky received what amounts to a life sentence. They all paid a price for the way they chose to live their lives. It doesn’t undo what they have done, but there were consequences to their actions. What comes around goes around.
I’m sure you can look around your place of work today and see others who appear to be thriving despite the type of person they are. Maybe one has recently received a promotion. Another has been assigned a plum project. Things just seem to go their way.
Does it make you wonder whether you should resort to the same tactics? Maybe you should try a little of what they’re doing; it certainly seems to be working. There might a corner or two you could cut, and who would be the wiser?
The problem is that you would know. And do you really want to be seen in the same way the others are seen? Is it worth sacrificing your own integrity and self-respect to get that raise, promotion, or whatever it is you covet?
I’m not one to hold a grudge. I tend to think it’s a waste of time and energy. But I can tell you that I do hold at least one. It’s related to a business deal gone bad a number of years ago. I sold a business and entered into a contractual agreement with the buyers. The business declined, and the buyers no longer liked the terms of the contract to which they had committed. Their approach was to claim that I had not lived up to the terms of the agreement and threaten to sue me, with the hope that I would terminate the agreement.
When I told them I was confident that I would prevail in court and wasn’t interested in terminating the agreement, the truth came out. They had to get out of the agreement because they were nearing bankruptcy. They were willing to sue me to get out of the agreement because they had nothing to lose. If they could win, they would survive as a company. If they lost, they would be out of business, but that would be the case anyway if they didn’t terminate the agreement. Either way, I wasn’t going to get paid. Facing a no-win situation, I decided to walk away.
I haven’t gotten over that little episode, and it has nothing to do with the money I lost. You see, they questioned my integrity when they claimed I hadn’t lived up to our agreement. That’s a really hard thing for me to get over. If you call me a fool, I will likely forgive you. But calling me a liar and a cheat is hard for me to get past. Someday I’ll stop wasting my time holding a grudge, but in six years, that day has yet to come.
The point of my little story is that your integrity is precious. Don’t throw it away for anything. There is nothing worthy of the price you pay when you compromise your integrity. Nothing.
Don’t spend your time thinking about how unfair life is because some people seem to be benefiting despite the way they are living their lives. You may never know what price they have paid or will pay for their apparent success, but rest assured there is one because what goes around does come around.