In 1998 a United States military jet clipped a gondola lift in Italy; it fell to the ground and 20 Europeans lost their lives. In the aftermath of the incident, Capt. Richard Ashby and Capt. Joseph Schweitzer, two of the people in the jet, destroyed the video tape from the flight and conspired to lie. They were dismissed from the Marines.

You can read about that incident here: 20 Die in Italy As U.S. Jet Cuts Ski Lift Cable

I was listening to Naval Professor of Ethics and Captain Rick Rubel give a talk about this incident and he told of a time when he was teaching his ethics course using this story as a case study and Joe Schweitzer was present unawares. Captain Rubel asked the question, “Why do good people do the wrong thing?”

The class began to dialogue and then Captain Rubel introduced Joe and had him answer the question himself, straight from the horse’s mouth. Joe said,

“I didn’t wake up that morning knowing that I’d have to make the biggest moral decision in my life. But I had to and I wasn’t prepared.”

His message was simple – Be prepared morally. The Navy calls it moral fitness.

I call it a definite skill to have in your pocket by the time you leave College and hit the world of work.

If you want to be a consistent and respected leader, you should know 1) how you reason your ethics, 2) the strengths of your character and 3) the behavior you mean to portray generally. You should know where your exceptions lie, if you have any, and which consequences are intolerable to you.

The development of your ethical POV is a tough and long journey but it’s worth the time you will put into it. Just understanding the framework and elements of it will expand your ability of remaining in tough conversations without losing your rationale. You learn how to get your point across more clearly and you also notice flaws in logic when either you or someone else share thoughts.

If you would like to begin learning about developing your recognition of your ethical POV, begin by watching this video (there are 4 parts but you decide how far you would like to go with your own developmental understanding.) It shares a great framework for beginning to become more aware of yourself.

In the meantime…#PushForward

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One response

  1. Ethics/Integrity should always be the focus of leaders & prospective leaders. Learning is a life-long process of making decisions, etc.and integrity should not be taken lightly. Once he/she begins to wobble about right and wrong and cannot make a definite stand, is a sign of trouble. Thank you Journey of Champions for putting this out there. INTEGRITY/ETHICS IS THE WAY TO GO!

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