What ever happened to the idea of doing the right thing just because it’s the right thing to do? It sounds like a lofty idea. In the modern world, generally speaking we either do the right thing for a reward or to avoid a consequence. We were taught this lesson early on: “If you are good while mommy is shopping, I’ll get you a treat.” Or how about: “If you don’t stop fighting with your brother, we won’t go skiing tomorrow.” Every choice has a consequence, right? Working hard should lead to that promotion. Driving too fast could land you a speeding ticket. We are conditioned to behave based on either the reward we are chasing or the consequence we want to avoid.
But what about just choosing to do the right thing because we know it’s the right thing to do? What about that? I think it builds character. I think it helps us define ourselves. I think it creates an internal strength that ultimately makes us more successful in life. My 13 year old son shakes the hands of the referees after every basketball game because he understands that there would be no game without them and that they are trying to do a good job…even if he loses and even if he doesn’t like the calls. He has learned that the refs appreciate it and he has also learned that even when it’s hard to do…it feels good. He’s sincere about it…there is no reward or consequence for his behavior except that it makes him feel good on the inside. He’s learning to do the right thing just because it’s the right thing to do. And maybe someday when he’s an adult and gets a job, he’ll work hard just because he cares about his company and the quality of what he’s producing…not for a raise, not for a promotion, just because it’s the right thing to do. If that’s the case, I know he’ll be happy….and successful.