By Jim "Gymbeaux" Brown, December 17, 2008
Who would have thought it possible? The Governor of Illinois allegedly selling a senate seat; does the word “integrity” come to mind? People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones so take it for what it’s worth from someone from Louisiana where our U. S. Representative had $90,000 cash in his freezer and was still reelected (thankfully he lost in a run off election).
What could have happened to create an atmosphere where an elected official apparently thought and acted as if he (she) were impervious to the law and more importantly common sense? As usual, I have an opinion, imagine that.
Believe it or not (I prefer to believe it) I think it all started with a pen, some copy paper and a lie. Who does not know someone, certainly not you, who has not taken home a company provided pen, or has taken copy paper from the copy machine? Then comes the lie, “They can certainly afford it; it won’t be missed.” Then like any lie, subsequent lies become more frequent, easier and even believable with each lie we tell. Who has not driven the interstate system at 75 mph instead of the posted 70? “Everyone is doing it, they won’t stop me; they’ll stop the ‘real’ speeders.” I know this because…
It is a simple matter of progression from very minor things like taking copy paper to more complex issues like taking illegal drugs or even selling a senate seat, after all, everyone is doing it, aren’t they? As in the case of the Governor of Illinois, the loss of common sense is the result of two words (at least in my opinion) – POWER and ARROGANCE.
Contrary to what a great many people think and say, POWER does NOT corrupt; people corrupt, the acquisition of power just makes it much easier. Arrogance dulls the natural wisdom people have to delude their thinking to where they “believe” they are beyond being responsible for their actions and they can do no wrong. In the case of the Governor of Illinois it would be my guess that he believed that “Chicago Politics” are what they are, and “everyone is doing it; aren’t they?” Since everyone is doing it, why not become the beneficiary of the opportunity of selecting a replacement for Senator Obama’s senate seat? “I’m the Governor of Illinois, who would dare stop or question me?”
This attitude is not reserved only for politicians, on the contrary, every person, man or woman, who reaches the pinnacle of their profession such as Chief Executive Officers, Senior Military Officers, company owners, etc. are subject to the “potential” for a deterioration of their own common sense and moral compass. The key word is “potential” because it is not something that MUST happen, but only COULD happen if there is no internal moral compass to help guide you past the “doing what everyone does” to “doing the right thing.”
I am old enough to remember when people were held accountable for their actions. Times when people did what they said they would do and felt a moral obligation to “do the right thing.”
I would like to suggest that if you believe as I do – that having personal core values is extremely important – then I would highly recommend you visit the web site of Joe Tye at http://www.joetye.com/twelve-core-action-values.html. Joe once gave me a gold colored card for my wallet that I still carry. It reads, “Is what I am about to do or say consistent with my ideal best self?” Joe refers to that question as a Direction-Deflection-Question or (DDQ). The premise is quite simple but extremely effective. You are headed in one direction with your thought process when you ask the question and hopefully use the question to validate the direction you are headed. If YES, proceed; if NO, stop! On the back of the card are the twelve Core Action Values Joe feels are critical to maintaining your moral compass: Authenticity; Courage; Perseverance; Vision; Mission; Enthusiasm; Focus; Awareness; Service; Integrity; Faith; and, Leadership. Would there have been a different outcome if the Governor had first asked himself, “Is what I am about to do or say consistent with my ideal best self?” He could have substituted any one of the twelve core action values in the DDQ question; example, “Is what I am about to say consistent with my own best authenticity, courage, perseverance, etc.” In a word, ‘NO!”
A good friend of mine purchased a new Hummer automobile probably worth in excess of $50,000 at the time. When I asked him why he would buy such an automobile he responded, “Because I could.” Why would someone take a company pen, copy paper from the company copy machine, drive 75 mph in a 70 mph zone or sell a senate seat to the highest bidder? Because they could! Not because it was the “right thing to do.”
The first order of business when climbing the ladder of success is to make sure the ladder is against the right wall. In the case of Governor Blagojevich I would think that he probably exemplified one of the Core Action Values, that of being focused. He was focused on what he wanted regardless of what was right or wrong. The ends do not justify the means. Unfortunately is seems that in politics in every corner of the world, people use the political process to satisfy their own agenda rather than to truly serve the people – what a pity!
I cannot even begin to contemplate the good one could do by being a governor of a state, can you? Jobs, education, health care, elimination of poverty. It is literally mindboggling. How then could someone use the position of governor for personal gain as was the case of the Governor of Illinois? I truly believe that at some point in his life, it started with a pen, some copy paper and a lie. In for a dime; in for a dollar!
There is an easy test you can do by simply asking yourself this question:
WOULD I WANT MY MOTHER, FATHER, SPOUSE OR CHILDREN
TO READ ON THE FRONT PAGE OF TOMORROW’S NEWSPAPER
WHAT I AM ABOUT TO SAY OR DO?