“Reputation is made in a moment. Character is built in a lifetime.” – James Leggett
There are lots of people who know how to do lots of things. Competence is not a rarity today. With the advent of the internet, YouTube, Google, Wikipedia and other sites for research, there are many people who can get the job done. In fact, I see many magazines, newspapers and articles that highlight the “best” people in a wide variety of categories.
Though competence abounds, character is becoming shorter in supply. In the Bible, Esau traded his inheritance to Jacob for a bowl of stew. Today, we see over and over people who are trading their character for money.
Years ago, I worked with a fairly large financial company. The Senior Vice President of Sales asked me to do something that wasn’t just immoral, it was unethical and very close to illegal. My answer? Nope. I wasn’t about to violate my values and I made that clear. Shortly after that, my contract with them was terminated. Not a problem for me because I could just go out and get more contacts. Shortly after that, the company was featured on Inside Edition because, where I said no, others said yes. Two guys, whom I knew, had spent time with and were overall really good guys ended up doing what they were asked to do. They violated their character and values. The result: Both were fired, blackballed, lost their licenses, both were making around $1,000,000 per year. Not anymore.
True leaders believe that doing the right thing is more important than doing things right. I have always told my staff and my children, “if you’re going to do it, do it right.” Doing it right isn’t just about the technical way to do something. It involves both making sure you’re doing what’s in the best interest for others and doing it in a way that shows the right kind of character. Right activities without the right motives will lead to a path of destruction.
Great leaders aren’t just people who can get the job done, they are people who can get the job done with the right motives and character. Making a difference means doing the right things at the right time.