The recent tropical storm Isaias left me without power for more than 3 days. It just came back at 2 AM this morning.
During the last 24 hours, I often thought of how my parents lived 3 weeks without power after an ice storm in 1997. For 40 miles in any direction, businesses were closed. No ATMs, no gas stations, no restaurants. No hot water, no heat. In the middle of winter.
I recall my dad telling me that after the power was restored, it felt like magic when he flipped a switch and a light went on. He felt gratitude every time. It was almost as if electricity had just been invented.
Imagine a world where we lose our ability to make ethical decisions for 3 weeks. Or even just 3 days. A relatively short period where everyone cheats, lies and steals. A time when you can’t trust anyone. You can’t trust your family members, or your neighbors, or your boss, or the press, or the government. Then imagine trust is suddenly restored and when you ask a question you can trust the answer.
It would be like magic.
This is my 700th post. Coincidentally, I also wrote about magic on my 600th post. You can find all my milestone posts here.
Remember that uncle who did magic tricks when you were young?
He would find a ball behind your ear and guess what card you picked out of the deck. Every time you saw him, you focussed your attention and tried to figure out how he did it. And, eventually, you did figure it out.
Endeavoring to write a blog post every work day has forced me to focus my attention on ethics and compliance problems, and solutions, wherever they are found. Knowing that I have to write something tomorrow keeps my mind alert. It allows me to see how a new technology can improve compliance at work. Or how a behavioral science finding can nudge people into making more ethical decisions.
It’s practically magic.
You should try it.
In January 2017, a colleague and I challenged each other to write about ethics & compliance every day for two weeks. We also invited all E&C professionals to join the challenge and share their thoughts about the state of E&C in their industry.
Our goal was to increase the body of practical knowledge in our profession. Personally, it was also a trick to force me to pay attention to how things really are. Knowing that I have to write something the next day makes me notice the world.
Once the two weeks were over, I never stopped. I don’t write on weekends, or on vacation, and I’ll miss a day here-and-there if I’m traveling (especially crossing the International Date Line!) but, on the whole, I’ve been writing a short post every workday.
The writing is at times difficult but it’s always nice to click the “publish” button. I’ve learned a lot about myself and I’ve made new friends. I also think I’m a better E&C professional because of my writing practice.
Seth Godin inspired me to do this during his appearance on the Tim Ferriss show in 2016. Take 45 seconds to listen here.
I hope to see you online.
I am working from home today. I want to spend more time with the family before I depart for Beijing on Sunday morning.
I am looking forward to this trip, during which I will meet up with 40 ethics professionals from my organization. Our plan is simple: elevate our game.
What does this mean? It means that we will look for ways to provide even more value to the organization and its employees. It means we will agree to try new things that may or may not work. We will identify obstacles and remove them from our path. And clarify our sense of purpose.
Over the next week, I will document my trip on this blog and share any insight I gain.
This is post 400!
How we do things matters just as much as what we do.
We must carefully choose what we do if we don’t want to waste time on meaningless activities.
And we must carefully choose how we do these things to maximize our performance. Do our processes allow people to try new things and to fail? Do employees see how their work contributes to the end-result? Is the work allowing colleagues to grow? Are we careful to remove unnecessary emotional and financial pressures? Can people question the process?
It’s not enough to simply question what we do. Of course it feels good when we stop doing something that needn’t be done. But still greater satisfaction comes from joyful work.
This is post 300!
1997 – “This is your goal. Go meet it. I don’t care how you do it, just do it.”
2007 – “This is your goal. Go meet it but remember to do it the right way.”
2017 – “This is your goal. Let’s discuss how you are going to meet it the right way.”
This is post 200!
You will face at least one ethical dilemma this week, if not today.
And for sure, you will make the right decision.
But will you share that decision with your team?
If you don’t, how will they know that you are an ethical leader?
Your team is alway trying to figure out what is important to you. What are you communicating to them, by what you say and don’t say?
This is post 100!