The Ethics of a Mint

Every day we face challenges and none are more formidable than testing the strength of our ethics.

Whether in our personal or business lives, ethics describes our human conduct and specifically recognizing the difference between what is right or wrong. The biggest temptations often come in the smallest sizes offering us choices.

My friend Leslie Sekerka, Professor of Management/Founding Director of the Ethics in Action Research and Education Center at Menlo College, understands this all too well.

She appropriately says, “Adult Moral Development Is a Choice.” More to the point, “A person’s ethical character is reflected by the choices they make over the course of their lifetime.”

Ethics is a big deal and yesterday I was confronted with a simple choice over a mint. Allow me to elaborate.

In my chauffeur business I occasionally do work for other local companies covering their requirements. Yesterday, I was tasked with picking up a family at their home and driving them to a sporting event in Minneapolis. The second part involved picking them up at a convenient location 3-4 hours later and driving them home.

Once the first task was successfully completed I removed several empty water bottles and discovered a wrapped mint in my back seat. Without any thought I placed that mint in my pocket and locked the car.

Then, my moral compass began to buzz sending off alarm signals.

The mint wasn’t mine and I was not entitled to it. The customer I drove was the rightful owner and it was my responsibility to return the mint.

When I picked up the family after the event, I immediately returned the mint.

The Father sitting in the front seat with me asked me if the mint was mine. I replied, “No sir, it is yours.”

If he had any doubts about me as a person or being his chauffeur, I imagine they were put to bed right there and then.

Sooner or later the shortcuts we decide to take will come back to haunt us.

It is vitally important that no matter how small or large the choices we make ethics must be at the center of the equation. When in doubt, remember the mint story!!

My friends please remember this: respect, consideration, and courtesy matter a lot. Treat others fairly, decently, and equally.

Build your moral compasses carefully and always monitor them daily.

You know the battle cry: do your best each day. No one can ask more or less from any of us.

All the best/blessings, Mark

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