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Explains How Doing the Right Thing is the Best Way to Live!!!
on July 28, 2005
This book (whose original title was "There's No Such Thing as `Business' Ethics") by leadership expert John C. Maxwell is an easy-to-read, small book that states that ethics is not complicated. Maxwell explains:
"Ethics is ethics. If you desire to be ethical, you live by one standard across the board...Educators, philosophers, theologians, and lawyers have taken what is a simple matter and made it very confusing...This book's goal is to help you find the way to live and work ethically and also achieve greater success."
The one "standard" Maxwell recommends using in all situations is the Golden Rule: the precept that one should behave toward others as one would want others to behave toward oneself.
Maxwell does a good job in explaining why the Golden Rule is the standard to be used in all situations. However, the only situation he uses in his numerous, true, effective example stories is the type (RIGHT versus WRONG). For example, a cashier gives you too much change. The WRONG thing to do is to keep the extra change. The RIGHT thing to do is thus to give the extra change back.
The author gives many quotations from prominent people to get his points across. One of my favorites is a quotation from Ted Koppel:
"There's harmony and inner peace to be found in following a moral compass [he's referring to the Golden Rule] that points in the same direction regardless of fashion or trend."
Maxwell touches on the fact that all people are not the same and that the rule may have to be slightly altered to accommodate them.
A feature of this book is that certain important summary points are taken out of the main narrative and bordered between two horizontal lines for easy reference. I counted almost forty of these peppered throughout the book. Here are two examples:
(1) "There are really two important points when it comes to ethics. The first is a standard to follow. The second is the will to follow it."
(2) "Every day, whenever the issue of ethical behavior confronts you, ask this question: `How would I like to be treated in this situation?'"
As mentioned, Maxwell effectively explains the use of the Golden Rule in (RIGHT versus WRONG) situations. However, he does not explain how to use the rule in (RIGHT versus RIGHT) situations. This is called the ethical dilemma. To be fair, Maxwell does mention the ethical dilemma but his explanation of it is rather simplistic.
Here is an example of a dilemma. You are asked in your high-paying job to do something you feel is not right or else be fired. (It took years of hard work to get the high pay you're now getting.) The RIGHT thing to do according to the golden rule is to quit your job and get another lower paying one. However, there are ill members of your family who depend on your high income. So the RIGHT thing to do is not to quit your job. Maxwell spends no time in explaining such situations.
Despite not explaining how to handle dilemma situations, I still feel that this is a useful book that takes the technical jargon out of understanding ethics. Maxwell gives numerous true cases that prove how the Golden Rule builds morale, increases productivity, encourages teamwork, lowers employee turnover, and keeps clients coming back.
In conclusion, this is an effective book that explains some major ethical concepts. It demonstrates how doing the right thing is the best way to live and fosters a winning situation for all!!
(first published 2003; acknowledgements; preface; 7 chapters; conclusion; main narrative 105 pages; notes)