As we’re preparing for the release of Lee Ellis’ latest book, Engage with Honor: Building a Culture of Courageous Accountability in September 2016, we’ll be sharing excerpts from the book. This section of the book discusses how to stay on course with honor in day-to-day life and work. Please read below and share with others!
An Excerpt from Engage with Honor – Release Date: September 7, 2016
“Many of us have learned about good character values. We know the talk—it’s the walk that gets tough. The Watergate conspirators provide great insights into human frailty when faced with temptations that match our points of ambitious self-interests. These were bright, well-educated, successful professionals. Yet they made very serious—almost unbelievable—errors in judgment. What happened to their character? White House counsel Jeb McGruder explained this problem quite well saying,
‘Somewhere between my ambition and my ideals, I lost my ethical compass. I found myself on a path that had not been intended for me by my parents or my principles or by my own ethical instincts.’
So how do we stay on course? How do we guard our character and protect our honor?
As trite as it sounds, we need both a carrot and a stick. The carrot comes from our deepest desires, our strongest sources of energy—the source of our purest motives. These deep desires include needs like: to be safe and secure, to use our talents, to provide and protect, to be known and understood, to be valued and cared for, to love and be loved, to have meaning and purpose, and to come through in our assignments and hear, “Well done.” There are others, but you can see how these can energize us to press on through hardship and sacrifice to reach a higher level.
You can also see how the drive to succeed in meeting these strong desires might get distorted and cause us to cut corners. If we are looking for an easy way or a quick fix, any of us can lose sight of true north on our ethical compass. Navigating by our selfish desires and arrogant beliefs is a time-tested tactic for losing our way. That’s where the stick of courageous accountability has to be in play—the awareness that someone is going to hold us responsible. As in the character failures in Chapter 1, we will have to answer for our choices, behaviors, and actions; eventually, we will have to give an account.
This awareness of consequences plays a key role in keeping human nature on track, climbing higher to reach our lofty goals. And that’s why accountability is essential for: (1) successful living, (2) leading with honor, and (3) excellence in performance and execution.”
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