One of my mentors, Fred Smith said that “all great failures are moral failures.” When I first heard the explanation to this statement by Fred it made perfect sense. We all know the stories of very successful athletes, business people, politicians, and religious leaders who take a great moral fall. Drugs, lying, stealing from their companies and cheating on their spouses result in losing their reputation as well as their wealth, and often destroy their key relationships, impacting the lives of everyone around them. Pride, greed, and the desire for instant gratification cause people to make morally bad decisions, and these decisions destroy them and oftentimes many others.
Now that we are going through an economic meltdown as a country and as a world, I started to consider Fred’s statement on a much larger basis. Is this great economic failure really a moral failure? The more I hear and read, the more convinced I am that it is. Choosing debt to support a lifestyle driven by instant gratification is a moral failure. Well-intentioned do-gooders who create policies that allow people to purchase things they cannot afford are ultimately moral failures. Spending money we don’t have is ultimately a moral failure. A society that says “go ahead and get it now, everybody is doing it,” is a society that justifies their own moral shortcomings by getting everyone to participate.
This economic meltdown that we are all experiencing is not a technical glitch, it is the direct result of many morally bad decisions piling up until, by their own weight, they can only come crashing down. So here is the real challenge we face as a nation. The way out of this mess is not a series of technically creative political and financial policies. The way out is realizing we have to make good, sound moral decisions around money. Debt is bad. People are not entitled to things they cannot pay for. Hard work is the solution. Living on less than you make builds character, lessens risk, and provides a foundation of rock, not sand, for your future.
This all seems so simple, even too simple, but the truth is really always pretty simple, we just don’t like to admit it. Ultimately, to recognize that this economic collapse is really because of breaking moral laws means that we, and our leaders, must recognize that there is a moral law-giver. The bully pulpit in our country right now is controlled by the media and the politicians. They fancy themselves as the moral law-givers, and they certainly don’t recognize a truly moral law-giver unless they agree with him!
Never forget: Just because you are of the opinion that something is not true doesn’t mean that you won’t be governed by it if it is true. When people and countries make enough morally bad decisions, failure is a certainty. Here is the good news. The opposite is also true!
By Chip Lutz
When life is complete, what is the legacy you want to leave behind? One of policy, plans, procedures and rules? Or, do you want to leave a legacy that represents your true self? If your answer is the latter, then read on. At home, work, or play – if you want to leave a legacy that is of true value and that continues to be shared, then the answer is to tithe with others. I am not talking about giving 10% more than what you are giving right now. I am referring to sharing the 10% of yourself that makes you special. When we share our inner 10% with others, we pass that piece of ourselves on and can help others grow, develop, or move past a difficult time in their life. All the success I have ever enjoyed has been the result of another’s tithe in me – all ordinary people who became extraordinary because they took the time to invest the 10% that was personal, insightful, and sometimes painful (to share and to hear). Step up and start tithing today by being mindful of these principles.
Reflect Having a PhD, tons of money, or a title is great, but the only requirement for you to tithe is having a willing spirit and a reflective mind. To be in that reflective state-of-mind when encountering issues, ask yourself: How can I help? What part of “me” can be of benefit to this person? Your tithe could come in the form of a personal story, an experience, a triumph, or even a tribulation. Regardless of its origin, it matters because it is a part of you. With a tithe, sometimes the smallest things have the largest impact. Always remember that each of us is special and each has something to tithe.
Remove Distractions We live in a busy world – cell phones, WiFi, and the continual bombardment of information can leave people so stressed they feel like they are diagonally parked in a parallel universe! To tithe, we need to take the time to connect on a human level – to get away from the distractions and meet others with warm eyes and an open heart. Only 7% of the words we use are important. The other 93% of a conversation comes from our body language, facial expressions, and how active we are in our ability to listen. Tithing can be as simple as turning off the cell phone, lending an ear, and just “being there.”
Risk Is there an element of risk in tithing? The answer is yes. There is the risk of your tithe being unwanted. There is the risk of your tithe falling on “deaf” ears. There may also be the risk of being hurt. The hardest part of tithing is making that first investment. No great thing was ever accomplished without battling with that element of risk. In life, there are people that do and people that wish they had done. Wouldn’t you rather step out, take the risk of rejection and/or hurt and be of benefit to another than to have “wished” you had done something after the fact? I think the answer is clear – we should step up, step out, invest ourselves and take the risk.
Tithing is personal. It is a personal investment of your best 10% in others that goes beyond the boundaries of mentorship and coaching. It’s about a covenant that we build with others in an attempt to make meaning of our experiences and provide value to others as we run the race of life. The tithe that we share lives on in those we invest in and, chances are, it will become part of their tithe in others. It’s not a lot, it’s only 10% – but that small investment will give returns that are much greater than we could ever expect. Don’t hesitate, now is the time to reach out, connect, inspire, and make your investment in others through tithing. Now is also the time to thank those who have shared their tithes with you!
Time to invest in yourself!
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