What do you do when you know?
“Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.” – W. Clement Stone
I am often faced with situations that challenge my minds logical nature. Recently I was aware that something was not quite right with the work of one of my associates, Jack. When I would ask about Jack how things were going, I would always be enthusiastically assured that everything was great. That little alarm that goes off when something doesn’t feel right went off each time. Yet I didn’t want to probe too deep because I was “very busy” and I didn’t want to take time to have a conversation with Jack about my concerns. I am sure that I was also a bit concerned about what I would find out. So the matter went underground. Both of us were in denial that anything was wrong and you can image what happened from there.
t some point, I could no longer avoid looking at the situation. Things were not getting done and Jack was even more energetic in his assurances. The situation came to a head on a weekend morning. I was looking at my email and noticed that someone else was reading my email as well. I knew this because the email that recently received and yet unread by me was being shown as read. Well I knew that only one other person had access to my email and that was Jack.
I decided to change my password and then deal with the situation on Monday. Monday rolled around and I talked to Jack . Jack said that he could did not read my email and I must be mistaken.
Now what do I do? I didn’t have the “hard evidence” to “prove” my intuition and yet I knew beyond any doubt that I had someone on the team who was not truthful I also knew that if I didn’t act, I could easily find myself in a situation with a client where trust was broken and a long term relationship would be at risk.
So, I decided to use this experience to explore the whole nature of knowing something and not having the evidence that the logical mind wants to back up my intuition. If you are like me, you have faced this situation countless times. One very powerful past experience happened when I was the CEO of a technology company. We received two complaints from female workers of sexual harassment by one of our managers. I immediately had an evaluation performed by an outside expert and our attorney. The results were presented and it was clear that this manager was harassing these women. I was clear the next step should be to terminate this person. Not so fast said the attorney. This manager was in a minority group and because this person came from a company we had recently acquired which had practices that may have allowed such behavior he could potentially make a claim against us if we terminated him.
What did I do? Rather than heed my intuition, which was absolutely clear, I followed the advice of my attorney. I reprimanded the manager. The result was both women resigned because they felt they couldn’t trust the company’s leadership to provide a safe workplace. I was so ill the following day that I could not get out of bed. My body knew the right thing and my mind was just no cooperating. I decided then to never follow this path.
This has proven an intention that has not always been easy to follow. In the situation I mentioned at the beginning of this BLOG, I was reluctant to terminate the employee who wasn’t honest because I couldn’t prove what I knew. I did lay the person off, but I did not tell them the whole story of why I did.
What was I afraid of? As I have thought about it, I was afraid that they would challenge me. I was afraid that I would look stupid to act without evidence. I did not want to look at any areas in my life where I was not in integrity since I was terminated Jack for his lack of truthfulness.
So this time, it wasn’t clean. The lesson continues to be: act from what I know and whatever the consequence is, as long as I act with integrity, I will be peaceful and isn’t that worth any price?
What are your experiences when faced with these situations?