If I look back through the 40 years of my business career, the lowest points are those times when I betrayed my values.
My biggest regret was something that happened 30 years ago. I was told of a business opportunity that would be of great benefit to me if I could only prove I had certain experience, which I didn’t.
Encouraged by another person, I stepped over the line and asked a business acquaintance if they would say I worked for their company so I could qualify for this opportunity.
As soon as the words came out of my mouth, as I looked into the face of my acquaintance, I regretted it. I realized I had sunk to an all-time low.
Thankfully, my request was denied immediately. But the weight of my stupidity has remained with me for years.
As I think back, I try to imagine what would have happened had I qualified as a result of a lie. Would I justify that dishonesty and grow a business based on that foundation?
I could have made hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars by seizing that deceitful opportunity. I know, however, the celebration of that success would never be the same as the taste of honesty.
I also know that lying begets lying.
So what does any of this have to do with corruption in Canada?
When people get inspired by greed and fail to see the errors of their ways because they’ve been able to make money dishonestly and build upon that opportunity, their moral compasses fail.
An addiction comes with making large amounts of money, as lifestyles become dependent on the cash flow.
Whether it’s a politician, or government or company official on the receiving end of gifts, leaders enjoying benefits for their family members, or a company benefiting from contracts, corruption is alive and well in Canada.
Yet the middle class is turning a blind eye to it.
I can’t be the only Canadian who thinks something is wrong when I hear comments like:
- “That’s how business is done now. We have to pay an insider fee.”
- “The prime minister is a good guy and probably doesn’t know what’s happening around him.”
- “This company told me it would be good for me personally if I awarded them this contract.”
This type of corruption and under-the-table transfer of benefits has been going on since time eternal.
However, I can’t recall when a prime minister has been found guilty of multiple transgressions by the ethics bodies and nothing has happened. Recent scandals make me wonder how many organizations like SNC-Lavalin or WE Charity are trading money for favours to political parties or politicians and their families and haven’t been exposed.
Over a decade ago, while travelling in Africa, I learned it was normal to give officials cash to get to the front of a line, have paperwork completed quickly or get the permit you needed.
I have no doubt this level of corruption is only a few years away in Canada if we continue down the current path. When we forget that we value honesty, and that the rights of the poor and middle class surpass those of companies to make huge profits, we start sliding toward daily, widespread corruption.
We all have regrets and make mistakes. But we need to admit our errors and turn back to our intrinsic nature of goodness.
We can do this as individuals. But collectively, we need to stand up and tell our leaders that we demand an end to corruption at all levels. And we should demand just punishment for the offenders, whomever they may be.
Dave Fuller, MBA, is an award winning business coach and a partner in the firm Pivotleader Inc. Send an honest email to firstname.lastname@example.org