Do The Right Thing

Otis Encourages You To Do The Right Thing

It started while having coffee with my wife one morning as we watched the talking heads deliver the latest barrage of tragedies. They got into my head a little bit as the news got worse. I noticed that my attitude mirrored the downward spiral spewed forth on the tube.

An oil spill that nobody is stepping up to fix, a violently chaotic stock market [pronounced: casino] that stole billions of dollars from shareholders a few weeks ago during a "glitch," Republicans versus Democrats versus Tea Party versus the unions versus… What the heck are we putting up with here?

Have the laws that we’ve allowed our "law makers" to heap on top of other laws to correct what they didn’t like about those laws, which were written to counteract other poorly written (or obsolete) laws, become such a tangled mass of moral spaghetti that we can no longer make intelligent decisions based on just doing the right thing?

While still pondering this mess and sipping my coffee, I read an email from a friend and long-time dealer. He’s wondering if he’s going to be able to ride this thing out. He’s done all the responsible things: cut expenses, invested in training, renegotiated every contract he has, kept his inventory moving quickly, etc. His fear is that the sound decisions he’s made for the life of his business will be superseded by the need to keep his business viable. Will he have to sell his soul to stay afloat?

His email made me very introspective; I have a few decisions to make about the projects I’m considering right now. Am I going to make my decisions based solely on money? Am I committed to doing the right thing at all costs? Will I have to choose between the two?

I’ve always run my business with this in mind: You must be profitable to operate honorably, and you must also operate honorably if you’re going to be profitable. If I can’t work within the tension of that paradox, am I left with only one option to keep my business profitable — that of being a thief?

I don’t think we will take back our industry by making decisions that we wouldn’t make if we had all the money we needed. I, for one, will continue to make any such decisions, both personal and business, in which doing the right thing is challenged by doing the right thing, regardless of the costs.

I’ll quote my friend’s email: "I am taking a stand to make all decisions based on doing the right thing regardless of the financial fallout. If nothing else, whether my business survives or not, it’ll be good practice for the future."

Me too.

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