L. Douglas Mault
June 2007A great deal has been written about business ethics. There are courses, seminars, tapes, DVDs and so on, all dealing with ethics.
My business and life ethics come from the example set by my parents. My dad, who we think may have just made it out of the fourth grade, not only set an example but, to instill sound ethics in his three sons, often quoted these two poems. To me, he, and these poems, covered the topic. I hope you enjoy them (with apologies to women readers as it is not appropriate to change the authors’ words).
The Guy In The Glass Dale Wimbrow, 1934
When you get what you want in your struggle for pelf*. And the world makes you King for a day, Then go to the mirror and look at yourself, And see what that guy has to say.
For it isn’t your Father, or Mother, or Wife, Who judgment upon you must pass. The feller whose verdict counts most in your life, Is the guy staring back from the glass.
He’s the feller to please, never mind all the rest, For he’s with you clear up to the end. And you’ve passed your most dangerous, difficult test If the guy in the glass is your friend.
You may be like Jack Horner and ‘chisel’ a plum, And think you’re a wonderful guy, But the man in the glass says you’re only a bum If you can’t look him straight in the eye.
You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years, And get pats on the back as you pass, But your final reward will be heartache and tears If you’ve cheated the guy in the glass.
Rudyard Kipling, circa 1910
If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you; If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too; If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies, Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating, And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master; If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim; If you can meet with triumph and disaster And treat those two imposters just the same; If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, Or watch the things you gave your life to broken, And stoop and build ‘em up with worn out tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, And lose, and start again at your beginnings And never breathe a word about your loss; If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew To serve your turn long after they are gone, And so hold on when there is nothing in you Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on”;
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch; If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you; If all men count with you, but none too much; If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run— Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And—which is more—you’ll be a Man my son!
About the Author
L. Douglas Mault is president of the Executive Advisory Institute, Yakima, Wash.