Hello SOTGC community,
This post was inspired by my new co-worker Lisette last week when we were taking a break from setting meetings and I asked for ideas for The Hunger Games of Business saga. How many of you have heard the expression “It’s just business” before? When someone does something to you, or you have seen something done that isn’t very ethical or ends up (for lack of a better term) screwing someone over they say “it’s JUST business,” as if that’s supposed to somehow make it OK or acceptable.
I have always had mixed feelings about this phrase. Part of me understands it because, once again, business is a game with: strategy, political know-how, and there are victors…and those who do not win. However, from an early age my father has told me time and time again that it takes years to build a good, moral reputation in my community. Conversely, it takes minutes to topple that, and sometimes it’s not recoverable. He always taught me that NOTHING is worth the quick buck or quick promotion if it means sacrificing your morals and integrity. I would like to think that I have always lived by this motto and that I have done my father proud, that I have never backstabbed anyone to get ahead, and that everything I have achieved has been earned off of merit, hard work, tenacity, and having formed a solid reputation.
In the first Hunger Games book the audience becomes more and more captivated by the obvious love interest between Katniss and Peta. The Gamemakers try to keep the games as gory and intriguing as possible, so they played upon this budding romance and announced one night in the middle of the games that there would be a change that year. They declared that there could be two winners, thus ensuring that Peta and Katniss could pair up and continue to titillate the audience with their romantic interest in each other. However, at the very end, when Peta and Katniss were the only two remaining, the Gamemakers once again changed the rules. As the two stood side by side waiting for the Hovercraft to come take them to safety, they were told that in fact there would only be ONE winner.
Katniss immediately draws her bow on Peta while he throws aside the knife he was holding and offers his life as sacrifice to save her. Instead of playing into the Gamemakers twisted “it’s just business” decision, Katniss and Peta stand back to back, pull out the poisonous berries they have in their pockets, and threaten to eat them simultaneously. Seeing as how this happens in the first book, and there are two more, I think you can guess what the outcome was.
This is a superb example of two people who were not willing to sacrifice their integrity, simply to get ahead (although I’d say it’s a bit more extreme since it was their lives they were risking.) I think every single one of us has been in a situation where they have been offered a job, promotion, extra business (if you’re in sales), etc in your work life…with the caveat that you have to sacrifice your morals to attain this.
During these moments one is forced to step back and decide what type of person they want to be. What type of example do you want to set for your peers, your competition, and even your children? How would you like it if you were on the receiving end of the “screwed over” party and no one took your wellbeing into consideration when making their decision?
What I’ve noticed in my industry is that you get quite a mix of people and I’ve come across sales reps that I can tell are willing to (and probably have) done some shady things to make their quota…or whatever it is they are after. These are the people responsible for the fact that when I entered into the industry, I was immediately looked at with suspicion everywhere I went because they didn’t know yet what type of sales rep I would be (the moral or the immoral). This was extremely annoying for me five years ago, now I don’t have to worry about it as much because I’ve been around long enough that most people know who I am, and I’ve never sacrificed my integrity for business.
So getting back to the theme of the post and the title…I guess you could say that I don’t agree with the “It’s JUST business” mantra if it means sacrificing your ethics for it. At the end of the day, there will always be people who will let greed and power-lust tempt them to the wrong side…but that doesn’t mean it has to be you.
If you’re good at what you do, if you have a solid and upstanding reputation, if you strategize in an honorable way, if you play the political game correctly (without throwing anyone under the bus), then you will make it to the top. So how about you? Have you found yourself (or are you finding yourself) in a similar situation…where only one “tribute” is allowed to be left standing? Will you release that arrow and watch it sink into the heart of what was previously your teammate and friend? Or will you be brave, pull out the berries, and refuse to let yourself be corrupted by greed and power?