Volume 9 Number 2 | February 2019
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Norms and Principles
I just learned that one of these hot shot, get-rich-quick internet hustlers has announced he’s moving his family to Puerto Rico. I suspect that he’s taking his ill-gotten gains and moving to a very inexpensive environment so he can escape some taxes and avoid contributing back to the greater community.
Despite the fact that you feel as if you have to take a shower after listening to this guy (basically what he “sells” is advice on how to “sell” get-rich-quick schemes to others, a version of “network marketing” and Ponzi schemes), I’ve met people who have attended his sessions and invested in his materials.
Why? Because their own common sense and ethical standards fall victim to the norms of the group around them.
But What Do YOU Stand For?
You might agree that 85 miles per hour is too excessive a speed for even highway driving, but when you’re in a new place and everyone around you is travelling at that speed, you tend to, as well. Your belief is outweighed by the norms surrounding you.
I think that’s why otherwise decent people break into lines, jump a subway turnstile, or even loot. They would never engage in those acts if they were discussing them calmly, but in the midst of peers engaged in those acts, the urge to participate in the normative behavior is overwhelming.
This is why crowds quickly form, why violence suddenly spreads, why firms like Wells Fargo or Volkswagen are infected by a virus of cheating and falsehoods, why Enron lasted as long as it did.
These weren’t conspiracies of horrible people, by and large, but a gradual envelopment of decent people by the unethical norms or a larger operation, not unlike the frog in the pot while the water slowly comes to a boil.
Why Think About This?
Are you engaged in honest deliberations and negotiations with prospects and clients, or do you run the risk of abandoning your principles to match others who threaten to drag you into simply making money with shoddy work, broken promises, and lousy business deals?
Are your principles sufficient to withstand the pressure created by people waving money in your face gained by cheating others out of it? That sounds like a no-brainer, but apparently, for too many sponsoring a move to Puerto Rico, it is not. Multi-level marketing exists all around us, and no matter what you call it, it’s unethical and cheats people out of money.
If people exerted their own principles and didn’t fall victim to colleagues citing “easy riches” the business would disappear. But it doesn’t.
© Alan Weiss 2019
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