OPINION

Harvey Mackay Column: Do what is right, not what is easy

Submitted by Harvey Mackay
Submitted

A butcher, who had a particularly good day, proudly flipped his last chicken on a scale and weighed it for a customer.

“Almost 6 pounds,” he said.

“That’s a little too small,” the woman said. “Don’t you have anything larger?”

Hesitating, but thinking fast, the butcher returned the chicken to the refrigerator, paused a moment, then took out the same chicken and brought it out to the woman and said, “This one is 6.3 pounds.”

The woman paused for a moment and then declared, “You know what, I’ll take both of them.”

Business ethics, like chickens, come home to roost. Lying to customers, or anyone for that matter, will destroy all trust that you have worked to establish.

I once again had the opportunity to speak at the 10th annual Integrity Summit last month in Phoenix, the brainchild of co-founders Gregg Ostro, CEO of Go Media Companies, and Jerry Colangelo, former owner of the Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks.

Colangelo, who headed up USA Basketball for 14 years, said: “For us the “i” in winning is integrity. If you conduct yourself with integrity and your business with integrity, it will lead to very positive results.”

Integrity Summit is a half-day event chock full of inspiration, education and real-life stories from leaders of business, government and non-profit organizations coming together to raise the Integrity Quotient® across their organizations and the marketplace as a whole. It’s like getting a PhD in integrity decision-making to give you competitive advantages and rewards.

Each year Integrity Tiger awards are presented to distinguished leaders who are widely known and recognized for operating consistently with integrity in business, education, government, sports and philanthropy. I was fortunate to be recognized one year as an Integrity Tiger.

Larry Fitzgerald, the former superstar wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals and a previous Integrity Tiger Award winner, said: “Integrity is really the biggest thing in our lives. It’s who we are and what we want our kids to live by. It defines us in one direction or another.”

Integrity is not something you show others. It is how you behave behind their back.

I was shocked to hear some of these numbers: 60% of workers believe managers as well as 40% of their co-workers breach integrity; 60% of high school to grad school students admit to cheating; 52% of employees admit to stealing office supplies; and 43% of store merchandise losses are due to employee theft.

Doing the right thing is never the wrong thing to do.

I learned integrity from my father at an early age. He was looking at my report card and said, “One thing in your favor son – with these grades, you couldn’t possibly be cheating.”

Speaking of college students cheating, Introductory Chemistry at Duke University has been taught for about a zillion years by Professor Bonk and his course is known affectionately as "Bonkistry."

One year, four guys were taking Chemistry and doing pretty well on all the quizzes, midterms and labs. They were each earning a solid "A" going into the final exam. They were so confident that the weekend before the final exam they decided to go up to the University of Virginia to party with some friends. Due to bad hangovers, they overslept all day Sunday and didn't make it back to Duke until early Monday morning.

Rather than taking the final exam then, they explained to Professor Bonk that they had driven up to the University of Virginia for the weekend and had planned to come back in time to study but they had a flat tire on the way back and didn't have a spare, so they didn't get back to campus until late Sunday night.

Professor Bonk thought this over and then agreed that they could make up the final the following day. The four guys were elated and relieved. They studied that night and went in the next day. Professor Bonk placed them in separate rooms, handed each of them a test booklet, looked at his watch and told them to begin. They looked at the first problem, which was something simple about molarity and solutions and was worth 5 points.

“Cool,” each of them thought. “This is going to be a slam dunk.” But they were unprepared for what they saw on the next page. It read: Which tire? (95 points)

Mackay’s Moral: If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.