One of my favorite change agents, Tom Asacker, has written a short but deep treatise on the meaning of life. He says it’s our business to to be useful, honorable and compassionate.
Here’s what he says about honor:
Are you honest, straightforward, trustworthy? Do you play fair? And if not, whom do you think you’re fooling? I’ll tell you who. You’re fooling your kids! You are not doing them a favor by providing for their financial security through your Machiavellian methods. That’s simply more b.s. self-talk to make you feel good about your self-serving actions. What they need during these chaotic times is a role model to teach them what’s truly important in life. So for their sake, get real! And be passionate about something bigger than money.
I think many of us who serve corporate masters, also known as Fortune 500 clients, struggle mightily with this. I know I do. “Honest, straightforward and trustworthy” simply are not concepts that appear in the corporate charter. Whereas financial gain at all costs does.
Unless you happen to own the agency where you work and select clients based on your own elevated criteria, the grim reality is your talent will, at times, be used for ill purposes. As idealistic as I remain, I can’t envision a futute where agency types will reform corporate America. Reforming our own businesses and our own industry is the best we can hope for and that challenge is daunting in its own right. Yet, it’s one worth getting out of bed for.