We again have another scandal rocking our front pages on morality. People who are in positions of power should have taken steps they didn’t take. I’m referring to the circus that is swirling around the lack of actions taken by Penn State leaders.
All too often we take the easy way out. We justify how we behave and take the low road. Whether it’s because of money, friendship or just plain inconvenience, we are always faced with choices we can make around honesty.
Here is a lesson I learned about choices and honesty. I made this decision a little over fifteen years ago. It’s still one of the proudest points in my life.
My family was in the vending and food service business for almost thirty years. During this time we were a very proud company. We provided our customers with quality food service at a reasonable price. Everyone in our company worked very hard to deliver on this promise.
When we first started in the business there was no such thing as commissions to the locations where we provided service. As the years went by and new locations that didn’t have vending and food service dried up, some companies started paying rebates to locations known as commissions. The commissions were intended as a form of rent or incentive for a company to do business with a particular vending company.
The vending business eventually became a zero sum game. There were very few new manufacturing plants being built and the level of commission payments started to increase. Eventually the promised commission percentages rose to a level where staying in business and not cheating on your promise to your customers was becoming more and more difficult to do.
Even the software companies that provided vending management systems had double books as part of their software systems. We could if we choose have one set of books that were real and another that showed lower sales which allowed lower commission payments be paid to customers.
Slowly, we decided to exit one segment of the vending business after another. Eventually I had a decision to make. Continue in the vending business and start cheating or sell the company and do something else.
I choose to make a personal pivot in my career, sell our family business and move on to a new career. The easy choice would have been to set up double books like many other vending companies. I just decided that cheating was not in my DNA and put my company up for sale.
As it turns out leaving the vending business was a very good personal move for me. I was able to stay true to my morals and start a new career that I’ve enjoyed a great deal more than being in the vending business.
What sort of moral dilemma’s have you faced in your life? What were the choices or non-choices that you made and why?