Do No Harm

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Although the phrase "do no harm" is most often associated with the medical profession, it is a very wise admonition for entrepreneurs to follow also. In my most recent posting, like many other people, I was praising the winner of the 2006 Tour de France, Floyd Landis. Unfortunately, since that time he has failed two doping tests for higher than allowable levels of testosterone. He was fired by his team and the Tour de France no longer considers him their champion.

I wrote in my posting, Ingredients for Winning, that some of the key things that he learned from his mentor, seven-time Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong, were "forget pain, overcome mishap, crush self doubt, and focus only on your victory.” While each of these things is critical to winning grueling bike races, one of the key instructions that seemed to be left out was "don't cheat."

Performance enhancing drugs seem to be commonplace everywhere in the sports world today. From baseball and football players to track stars, there seems to be no end to the stories of athletes getting busted for using illegal drugs. Sporting events, which used to be an enjoyable escape for fans, now are somewhat tainted, because nobody knows who's using and who's not.

How does all of this relate to business? Let me ask you when was the last time you cheated one of your customers? When was the last time that you deducted something on your taxes that was questionable? When was the last time you lied to one of your suppliers to get a better deal? You see, sports isn't the only area that illegal or unethical performance enhancing practices are used to gain a little bit more of a competitive advantage.

Of course it takes financial capital to run a successful business. I liken integrity to another type of capital - relationship or social capital. Social capital, i.e. credibility, is often more crucial than financial capital for many business owners. If entrepreneurs won't operate with integrity in their business dealings, there is nothing left for them to stand on. Losing credibility not only hurts the individual, it also hurts customers, suppliers, employees, and their families. What took a long time to build can come crashing down in an instant.

Entrepreneurs have to make many sink or swim choices everyday to maintain and grow their businesses. However, it is NEVER the right decision to do something that you wouldn't want to be published on the front page of a newspaper or a blog. No matter how small it might seem, what you do in secret should always align with how you operate in public. That's called integrity. And it's sad to say that many businesspeople are bankrupt in this area.

No matter what pressures you face on a daily basis, it is never worth it to cheat, steal, lie, or do anything else that is illegal or unethical. Remember, you will reap what you sow. If you sow positive seeds in your business and other people's lives, you will reap positive results. Likewise, if you sow negative seeds, you will reap negative results, which might not only cause you to lose a few dollars or a few customers, it might also cost you your business. Don't just think about yourself; think of the lives that will be negatively impacted by your negative decisions.

Do the right thing and do no harm.

Empowering You for Success,
Paul Wilson

Tags: business, entrepreneur, leadership, ethics,
Tour de France, discipline, Floyd Landis, sports, Lance Armstrong

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