We deal with ethical issues and typically offer questions that, once answered, bring readers closer to winning the ethics award, which I oversee. Yesterday, I created my own ethical dilemma, which put me in great company - are you getting this, Mr. President?
In a speech at The Ethics in Business and Community Awards luncheon, I asked that the 600 attenders text me their nominee(s) for next year's award. Something like this:
Please nominate your ethical friends, vendors, and organizations of every size. You might start with this year's finalists.
You may fill out one of the cards on your table, submit a nomination online at recognizegood.org or - and this is really the best way - text your nominee to me at [my phone number].
I believe 600 text messaged nominations will help me reform my unethical phone. [Holding up my phone} This thing cannot pass the simplest ethical test.
Ethics has tests of process and content. The process is: think-talk-do, with the assumption that do means do good. And what do we think-talk-do about? Always that old-as-humanity struggle between what's best for oneself and what's best for others.
An ethical person or organization thinks about an ethical issue, talks about it, then does some good. The good is almost always harder on the doer; it's more expensive and less convenient, but it is the right thing to do. Enough right things done reforms a community, and even entire countries can be reformed by good deeds done.
My phone does not understand this simple idea. It thinks and talks, but does nothing. I lay it on the table and tell it to go do good AND NOTHING HAPPENS.
And it is amazingly selfish, always asking for more storage, to connect to this or that network, or wanting some newfangled upgrade. My phone is like a bratty teenager in those regards, and I hope we can reform it.
You are ethical people. Wouldn't you agree that ethics are reformed by overwhelming unethical thoughts, talks, and deeds with ethical ones? [They nodded, which one would expect since my proposition is painfully obvious.]
My hope is that by overwhelming my phone with 600 text messages nominating Austin's amazing, ethically driven companies, non-profits, and individuals, it - the phone - will feel bad and be at least less selfish.
It occurs to me that we - the 600 ethical leaders in this room - are fast working to overwhelm Austin with hundreds of examples of ethical organizations and individuals.
Austin is known for being weird. Are we making it good and weird?
And then people were nice to clap and my phone started buzzing to get my attention like the bratty teenager it is. Could you not wait for the luncheon to finish?
Then it broke.
Not a simple, dark screen like it needed a charge. This was a midnight blue screen, which means death according to the service tech.
What a brat (the phone, not the service tech).
For five hours, I was time-traveled to the 1980s. Unable to answer clients' questions, lost as a goose without gps navigation, clueless where to eat, oblivious to fabulous email offers, unreachable by telemarketers who wanted to help me payoff my student loans, finally get that mortgage, or save the wild dog population of North Korea (we had those in the 80s too though, so not that much has changed). My life was disconcertingly . . . quiet.
Anyway, the phone is fixed, and I am back (with you), screening the tsunami of information delivered to this handheld marvel that is also a brat. It really is much like a teenager, simultaneously a marvel and a brat, and now resurrected. And I am smiling at the names of 2018 award nominees.
Questions for The Ethics Award
What would it mean for your organization to win an ethics award?
How do you make an ethics award less about you (the nominee) and more about others (the people who benefit from your ethical actions)?
What do you do with the idea that unlike other awards, winning an ethics award means you're just starting on making the world a better place?
Who would you like to nominate? (No texts please.)