The ethics of excellence requires a sense of perspective. Look at the big picture. If you live for the moment you might mortgage the future? What happens if you put your reputation at risk and lose the bet?
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...There's a lot more to be gained from being grateful than you might think. Managing your outlook towards appreciation and thankfulness feeds the soul. It brings calm and contentment. It lifts your levels of happiness and hope. Gratitude will amplify your positive recollections about times past, and in turn sets the stage for optimism about the future.
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Pay attention to the voice within. . . . Sometimes the voice of your conscience gets drowned out by crowd noise or by the pep rally of temptations. And your mind may put some selfish spin on the ball, rationalizing that it's okay to veer away from the ethical route. When we run into conflicts between ethical "shoulds" and our selfish "wants," we all argure out ways to con our conscience. But take pains to listen, because it has your best interests at heart.
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High personal standards aren't enough for organizational excellence. You've got to be intolerant of low standards in others. . . . If you accommodate questionable practices in others who touch your organization, you risk soiling its reputation. Anybody whose hands aren't clean can get the place dirty.
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Your doubts are not the product of accurate thinking, but habitual thinking. Years ago you excepted flawed conclusions as correct, begin to live your life as if those warped ideas about your potential were true, and ceased the bold experiment in living that brought you many breakthrough behaviors as a child.
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The question is, when so many others cut corners, shave the truth, self-deal, believe in the fast buck, and follow the crowd along the low road of least resistance, can we even afford to travel the high road of ethical behavior? Frankly, we can't afford anything else. Any other competitive angle is a pure crapshoot in today's business world. Companies with shaky ethics and shabby standards will be crippled as they try to compete in our changing world.
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We all faced painful ethical challenges before we even knew how to spell our names. There were tough choices. Tradeoffs. Confusing signals regarding how to live one's life. And here we are now, today, still struggling. Still trying to sort things out. Still trying to work our way through life effectively. About the only thing that has changed is the scope of the problem. There's more at stake now. And we're in a position, as grownups, to do a lot more-good or bad-for ourselves, our organization, our world. But we still must wrestle with our imperfect ethics.
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Excellence is a process, not just an outcome. Sure, we have to hold out for high standards in the products or services we provide. The goods must be more than "good enough." But so must our approach - you know, our methodology, the way we do business and deal with people. How could the ends be considered excellent if we can't be proud of the means?
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When you hold out for high standards, people are impressed-but they don't always like you for it. Not everybody will be on your side in your struggle to do what's right and ethical. In fact, sometimes even you won't be on your side. You'll wrestle with inner conflict, torn between what you should do and what you want to do. You'll also aggravate other people. Seems when you walk the straight and narrow you always step on someone's toes. Don't count on the ethics of excellence to make you popular.
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We can't achieve excellence through talent alone. Or merely by making technological improvements. We can't even buy our way to excellence, no matter how much money we have available to spend. More dollars will never do it. We have to develop a strong corporate conscience. Ethical muscle. And that doesn't happen by accident either.
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