Why did you choose to do what you do for a living? Was it because you wanted to become rich? Famous? Well-liked?
You may have achieved some or all of these goals, but I'll bet that none of these was what you were really after. Instead, you're in your line of work mainly because you wanted to make a positive difference in some way. Perhaps you wanted to improve the customer experience or your own family's situation.
Maybe your goal was to shake up the world with an idea -- an invention or a much-needed service that wasn't being provided. Or as an artist, you wanted to touch people with a song, a painting, a novel, or a screenplay.
Every time you provide excellent service to a client, develop your entrepreneurship, write a story, or take your children to their music lessons or the movies, you're making things better for the people in your life and for those you don't even know.
But do you also take time every day to make things better for yourself? Do you make sure to have three nutritious meals? Work out or go for a walk? Meditate, nap, or play?
Ethically intelligent people do. Ethics isn't just about how you treat other people. It's also about how you treat yourself. Regarding yourself in an ethical manner means making sure that your body, mind, and spirit are nourished and satisfied.
Flight attendants tell us, "Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop down from the overhead area. Please put one over your own mouth before you attempt to help others." Why? Because the only way we can hope to be of service to others is if we're in good shape ourselves.
But the reason to make things better for yourself is not just because you need to be in tip-top shape to serve others but also because you should treat yourself with dignity. It's a simple argument, really:
1. Premise: Ethics is about treating people appropriately.
2. Premise: You're a person.
3. Conclusion: Ethics includes treating yourself appropriately.
You work hard every day to honor your responsibilities to others. Do you treat yourself as well as you treat others? If not, isn't today a good time to start doing so?
Thank you for reading my blog! I hope you're doing well.
Bruce Weinstein, Ph.D.
The Ethics Guy
P.S. Would you like me to speak to your group? Contact me here.
This essay is excerpted from my book, Ethical Intelligence.