“There are tiresome people who say that if you ever find yourself in a difficult situation, you should stop and figure out the right thing to do.
But there are times in this harum-scarum world when figuring out the right thing to do is quite simple, but doing the right thing is simply impossible, and then you must do something else.”
Well. When I saw this I had to sit back and think. Why? First & foremost I am an unequivocal do the right thing person. And the thought of not doing the right thing galls me … makes me shiver to the core.
From a realistic point of view that doesn’t mean I always do the right thing … just that first & foremost I begin with decision making from a ‘what the right thing to do’ place.
And before anyone throws out the infamous ‘how can you know the right thing to do?’ or even the ‘in a harum scarum world it is sometimes difficult to discern what the right thing to do’ is.
99% of the time.
Yeah. Ok. Maybe 98.863718% of the time … figuring out the right thing to do is quite simple.
But, yes, sometimes … doing the right thing is simply impossible.
That is where I pause.
I pause because Lemony Snicket, a silly fictional character, nailed something that has subconsciously haunted me throughout life and my professional career. And I imagine it has haunted a large group of well intentioned, relatively bright, ‘do the right thing’ people.
Because in the end Life, and the business world, will not stand by and say ‘that’s okay … your intentions are impeccable … we know you not only want to do the right thing … you actually know the right thing to do”, it actually says … “okay … you must do something else.”
<in other words … “you gotta do something.”>
This also becomes exponentially more painful to me because I am also one of those people who unequivocally has a willingness to accept responsibility for the consequences of my choices. The good ones <happily> … and the unfortunate bad ones <unhappily>.
This also means I have to assume responsibility for actually purposefully NOT doing the right thing.
I have a few very close friends who will read what I just wrote and understand how painful that was for me to write.
But you know what? I think that’s part of what growing up businesswise is about … understanding that doing the right thing is impossible … sometimes. And that ‘doing something’ is better than ‘doing nothing’ <almost always>.
That doesn’t mean you throw the ‘right thing’ compass away. In fact … it may even harden you to ‘do the right thing’ even more so in the future.
I think the realization that doing the right thing was impossible sometimes didn’t weaken me in this regard it actually strengthened my resolve to do the right thing whenever possible.
It strengthened my understanding of where the North Star of ‘the right thing’ resided even on the cloudiest of nights.
I say that because this is one of those infamous slippery slopes in business.
I imagine some people who actually recognize the right thing to do <and oddly enough … that is actually a skill … not something that everyone is born with> and find it impossible to do could very very easily acquire some cynicism which eats away at the hope which resides within the desire of ‘doing the right thing.’ Little by little those people lose hope in being able to actually do ‘doing the right thing’ and begin simply ‘doing what is easiest to do’ <although none will ever suggest it was an easy task … and fairly … I imagine it wasn’t easy>.
Luckily … I am not one of those people.
I do recognize that doing the right thing is impossible … sometimes.
I do recognize that seeing the right thing to do is possible … always.
And seeing the right thing to do is half the battle.
And I also imagine … in my own pea like brain … that when we are discussing ‘doing the right thing’ … if there was ever a time that ‘the impossible is possible’ … this would be the time.
Or at least that’s the way my own pea like brain thinks about it.