It’s not about brains. It’s about beliefs.
Your brains may be worth a given amount to someone else, i.e. an employer or a client.
Your beliefs have a value only to you. What would you sell them for?
Rory Vaden, cofounder of Southwestern Consulting and author of “Take the Stairs,” posed this question in a column in the Dec. 1, 2013, edition of The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville.
He calls the sum you would command to compromise your beliefs your “character quotient.”
If you have strong beliefs in something, what would tempt you to deviate from those beliefs?
Criminals, obviously, have a low character quotient. Their beliefs are compromised regularly, and they don’t seem to mind. Or, they never had a strong set of beliefs in the first place. Some of them would compromise themselves for very little.
Some business people have low character quotients. Their belief systems have much to do with making as much money as possible. Some of them don’t really care whom they hurt to feather their own nests. Because of these people, commerce and capitalism carry a bad name among many.
Some people in politics have low character quotients. But, there is an exception here. One does not want a politician unwilling to compromise. Governing is all about compromise, and accepting election results. But some in politics are in it for self-gain and, frankly, make no bones about it.
No matter what you do for a living, no matter your faith, no matter your core beliefs, you probably have something you would go to the wall for. No amount of money, in your mind, would make you deviate from that. Let’s look at Vaden’s formula: a quotient is the answer in a division problem. The dividend is what is being divided. The divisor is what the dividend is being divided by.
Your character dividend, Vaden says, represents the self-assigned value you place on sticking to your virtues and doing what you know is right. The divisor is the amount of money or other payoff that would be offered for you to choose NOT to stick to your principles.
In a concrete example, we all hate paying taxes. How many of us tinker with our tax returns to pay as few taxes as possible. Of course, there is legal tinkering that is OK. But illegal tinkering – cheating – is not. How much tax savings would tempt you to cheat on your taxes, perhaps risking an IRS audit etc.?
Perhaps, you may be offered a job that would violate your core principles. How much would they have to pay you to do it? As an example, you may have a place you’ve always wanted to work. You get an offer to work there, but as a strikebreaker. In other words, you’d have to cross a picket line to go to work. How much would they have to offer you to do that?
Or, you discover that your employer is doing something illegal or unethical. You do not want to be a part of it, because of your core beliefs. Would you quit your job over it – actually take something of value away from yourself?
These are questions we may never ponder, or we may ponder constantly. Do you consider selling out as selling yourself? Do you try to justify your decisions by saying you are doing it for the greater good? Again, politicians are the exception here. They must ALWAYS think about the greater good. Have you ever been placed in a bad position, having to make a decision from which none of the alternatives would be good? What are your beliefs really worth?
If you find yourself in a position to make what you feel is a bad choice, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. You may realize there is a positive place to go when all of the choices placed before you make sense to you, and none would compromise your beliefs.
People who do the right thing usually get rewarded in the end. Those who do the wrong things eventually get caught. Do what make s YOU feel good. Don’t hurt others in the process. The rewards for straying are usually short-lived. Your reward for standing firm may not come immediately, but one day, you’ll find it.