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Leadership Thought #393 – Don’t Succumb to Temptation

August 1, 2012

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The more success you have, the more temptations will come your way.  It is easy to start to think of yourself as different or special when you outperform your peers.  You may begin to rationalize that the basic rules don’t apply to you, but they do.  Just look at the history of world leaders and their actions.   Character is certainly forged in the fires of adversity.  However, you also learn a lot about someone’s character when everything seems to go his or her way.  The saying goes “if you want to know who a person truly is then give them money and power.”

Life is full of temptation, especially in a society that constantly bombards you with advertisements glorifying self-satisfaction.  We are regularly reminded of our shortcomings and what we don’t have.  Happiness is presented to us through a lens of hyper-materialism, self-indulgence, and unending sexual vitality.  Winning is everything and our own happiness is prioritized over everything else, regardless of the consequences.  Feeling good has become more important than doing good.

We all need something that grounds us and guides us to make the right decisions.  If there are no rules or expectations of moral behavior, then anything goes.   When our family or peers look the other way, ignore, or even condone bad behavior, then we are adrift in a sea that leads to nowhere.  We are defined by our thoughts and actions, especially when no one is watching.

You will encounter people who have more fun, more money, are married to more physically attractive spouses, live in nicer houses, have more power and prestige in their work, etc.  Don’t get caught up with wanting what they have.  Do not get in the habit of keeping a score of the wrong things.  More is not always better.

Remember, when you look at the lives of others, that you don’t know how they got there or what it takes to maintain what they have.  The other side of the fence is never as green as you think it is and all that green may just be weeds.   When you are tempted to do things that you know to be wrong because you desire something different or want to feel a certain way, step back and reflect on the potential consequences of your actions.   You can never successfully rationalize immoral, unethical, selfish, or mean-spirited behavior, no matter how hard you try.   The further you get away from doing what is right, the closer you get to living a life of remorse and regret.