Good Leaders: If goodness pays, then what gets in the way?

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Disgraced NBA franchise owner Donald Sterling is finding himself sitting all alone: Perhaps he feels he earned the right to cheat and discriminate?

Disgraced NBA franchise owner Donald Sterling is finding himself sitting all alone: Perhaps he feels he earned the right to cheat and discriminate?

When is a wicked head/chest cold a blessing?

Today, I’m enjoying the unexpected consequences of an illness-induced slower pace.  It’s just a cold brought on by lots of airline travel, heavy exposure to pollen and emotional ups and downs – but it caused me to approach three professional speeches with very little energy – with better results!

In pauses for coughing, drinking water and conserving energy, I unintentionally gave my audiences empty space to actually think about the “goodness pays” message. At each event, someone mustered up the courage to ask: “If goodness really pays, why do we seem to notice so many more stories of people lying, cheating or hurting people?”

Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, Bernie Madoff, Martha Stewart, Pete Rose and the newly disgraced NBA owner Donald Sterling, were top of mind examples.

I answered the questions with this analogy: Someone once confided in me he paid for a lavish golfing trip with his buddies on his firm’s professional development budget. His braggadocio justification stuck with me: I can do it because “I’m a road warrior for this firm, so I’ve earned it.”

It’s the word “earned” that scares me – I think it’s what gets in the way. My former friend sounded like Tiger, Lance and Donald Sterling. After decades of success, each of these four felt they earned the right to cheat and discriminate – that directly contradicts two of the cornerstones of goodness: living generously and promoting fairness.

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Seth Godin is one of the world's most prolific bloggers. I find his wisdom to be insightful into the goodness movement.  Sethgodin.com

Seth Godin is one of the world’s most prolific bloggers. I find his wisdom to be insightful into the goodness movement. Sethgodin.com

Recently Seth Godin wrote a blog about “possession aggression.”  He articulated what psychologists have long known: humans will go to extraordinary efforts to defend losing things we believe we have “earned.”  If we think we have earned the right to live by different rules, we will forget about goodness and defend our special rules at almost any cost.

Goodness is about gratitude in action: I’m certain we’ve all earned the right to be grateful.

This morning,  I’m still hacking and wheezing, but I’m re-energized by audience members who encouraged me to keep pursuing the conversation that goodness pays.

Good leaders make a habit of living generously and promoting fairness.  And they manage their egos by asking the most important question: What do I feel I’ve earned the right to do? Because no one has ever earned the right to cheat or discriminate.

Our readers would love to hear from you: What do you think gets in the way of our natural born momentum for radiating goodness?[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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