Ah, the ultimate in deflection and justification. The stuff of childhood and apparently an accepted part of adulthood in some circles. Granted there is an ethical piece to going with that excuse, but to many it seems the question is more “will the excuse hold water”? Will it buy the shadow of a doubt, the sympathy or the forgiveness one seeks? Or better yet, does it justify the behavior in question, does it make the wrong decision a bit less wrong? An ethical roll of the dice maybe? Like any roll of the dice, the unknown is in the outcome.
I could not help but think of that wonderful excuse of childhood when I read the below quote from Floyd Landis:
“But there was no scenario in my mind where I was ever going to get the chance to race the Tour de France and win clean. There was no good scenario. It was either cheat or get cheated. And I’d rather not be the guy getting cheated.”
Granted the Floyd Landis journey has been “interesting”, but I have to admit, his quote in the recent Paul Kimmage interview is telling on a host of levels. Truth be told, as much as I have never been a fan of the “everybody else is doing it” line of reasoning, I did feel for the guy when I reflected on the above. On some very real level he has a point. However, it is the life lesson in that quote that it would be wise of us all to remember.
How much of what is going on around us is really a case of “cheat or get cheated” thinking? Clearly Floyd Landis gave us the example of cycling, but might there be a bit of that in the “financial crisis”? Bankers, lenders, borrowers, brokers…maybe a touch of “but everybody else is doing it” floating around there in the roaring market just a few years back. And take a moment Sunday when everyone is gathered around that classic American event, the Super Bowl. Might there be one or two guys on that field who have faced that debate of “cheat or get cheated” when it comes to steroids…maybe.
The challenge we all face, as leaders, as parents, and as people, is to ensure we are never creating situations of “cheat or get cheated”. It is not easy. It is sometimes not easy to recognize when we have created such an environment, and it is certainly not easy to acknowledge it when we have. Especially in those cases where everything seems to be moving along nicely. Let’s face it, when revenues are up, times are good, the kids are getting good grades, the money is flowing, who really wants to ask the hard “why”.
As much as any of us hate that classic excuse of a child, the Super Bowl will be one of the most watched events of the year. Are we sanctioning the behaviour and justification of “well everyone else is doing it” by our watching the game? Who knows, but to some degree I will be watching. Unless of course the weather is decent, in which case I will be out on the bike.