It's election day in my town. Working with one of the parties, I arrived at 5:00 AM to help with the day's events. Our immediate task was "challenges." Challenges are the procedural way to examine who used mail-in ballots and to see if there are any irregularities. Any party can use them. For example, we found fourteen voters who supposedly lived at the same address. By the way, the number on the address was "0." Really? Yet in the midst of our work, someone asked the question, "couldn't you challenge anybody's vote? Couldn't you challenge a whole district you thought wasn't voting for your ticket?" The answer was yes. You can challenge anything. But as our campaign manager wisely said "That's not what our candidates want to do. At the end of the day, they want to wake up after the election with their integrity intact."
We live in a world of challenges, achievement, success and position. Moving through that morass can be confusing at times and tempting at others. Our headlines are strewn with the wrecked careers of men and women who stepped over the line to achieve something and were caught. They hang their heads and move on. But what was missing?
Ethics and integrity are some of the key characteristics of greatness. Yes, people can achieve amazing things through cheating or enhancing their performance. Of course, they have to live with themselves. If each of us doesn't have a crystal clear distinction of right and wrong, we are vulnerable to the temptations for the easy ride, or the short cut.
In reality there are those who have not been caught. They've cheated the system, perhaps cheated you and me. But how worthwhile is an achievement that has been captured falsely? Can you really enjoy the moment if you've succeeded under false pretenses. I know I couldn't.
I was proud of the team this morning and it was a good reminder for me. Everyday shortcuts and backdoors are offered in various ways. The first step is always small. Yet, standing by your beliefs and knowing what is right and wrong is a powerful foundation. With your ethics and integrity intact you can take on the world knowing that even if you lose, you did what was right.