Honesty Is Practical
“Bread gained by falsehood is pleasurable to a man, but afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel.”—Proverbs 20:17.
IS IT necessary to resort to dishonest practices to succeed in business? The answer is no. In fact, dishonesty is frequently self-defeating. Why? Because of what has been called “the integrity edge.” Integrity generates trust, an essential ingredient for long-term success.
The Value of Trust
Your reputation for honesty affects your success—whether you are aware of it or not. The experience of Franz, who was quoted in the preceding article, bears this out. “When I first started working for my employers,” he says, “they subjected my honesty and integrity to a series of tests without my knowledge. As I later came to know, I passed. As a result, I have been entrusted with more responsibility and freedom and the owners have rewarded me for my honesty. I know that there are other people who could do my job better than I can and who are certainly cleverer than I am. However, I think my job has been secure because of the trust my employers have in me.”
Avoid Unwise Risks
David, a businessman quoted in the preceding article, observes: “As I watched individuals bend the rules to gain a short-term advantage, I thought to myself, ‘Sometimes the invoice is delayed, but it will always arrive.’ In other words, dishonest activity will eventually bring problems in one way or another. We turned down many questionable business opportunities. Many of the companies participating in these activities later disappeared, and some individuals were prosecuted. Our company avoided such tragedies.”
While establishing a cattle ranch in southeast Africa, Ken could have been tempted to bribe officials to expedite imports and help him to avoid paying duty. He says: “Many other ranchers gave in to this common practice. Because we did things honestly, it took ten years to get our ranch running. Was it worth it? Yes! Those paying bribes were continually harassed afterward by corrupt officials wanting additional payments.”
Coping With Economic Challenges
When a struggling business faces potential failure, the pressure to resort to dishonesty is great. However, such circumstances can also reveal the value of an honest reputation.
Consider the example of Bill, whose construction business failed during the downturn in the housing industry in the United States. He relates: “A number of our large customers went out of business owing us hundreds of thousands of dollars. When things began to look hopeless, I approached a competitor to see if they would hire any of us. Within 48 hours of the meeting, they offered to hire me and most of my employees. I was told that my reputation for good service and honesty was well-known.”
All the people whose experiences are related above are Jehovah’s Witnesses. Their business standards, like all other aspects of their lives, are based on the Bible. As you can see, rather than hindering their business success, their honesty has brought them practical benefits.
Yet, there will always be situations in which dishonesty appears to offer advantages. Are financial rewards the sole measure of success?
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Your reputation for honesty affects your success—whether you are aware of it or not
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“I was told that my reputation for good service and honesty was well-known.”—Bill, United States