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Are You Hijacking Your Own Success By BEING ETHICAL???

14 October 2011 3 Comments

african american librarian

LET ME ASK YOU A QUESTION: let’s say you drive home late today (like, three in the morning) and accidentally run a red light…do you take yourself down to court tomorrow and go, “Hey, I ran a traffic signal last night by mistake, but since a cop wasn’t around to stop me, I came here to pay the fine myself…”???

Of course not, but before we even go any further, let’s first establish the difference between “being ethical” and having a conscience.

A “conscience” is a moral sense of right and wrong: an instinctual drive for justice embedded in who you are as a person. Like Eddie Griffin once said, “Nobody needs to tell you, ‘Don’t kill yo mama.’ Somehow…you just KNOW that.”

But ethics is a little different…

Ethics is a branch of philosophical study PERTAINING to morality: an exercise in logic that results in an intellectual sense of right and wrong. It’s a “code of conduct” derived from THEORIES about how a conscience may (or may not) manifest itself under particular circumstances.

What I’m getting at here is that ethics are rules based on concepts that don’t always correspond to reality. They’re SUBJECTIVE by nature, so we all hit pivotal moments where we need to re-evaluate them (or let them go altogether) because they don’t lend themselves well to our real-life situations.

Now when it comes to success, I believe you have to be willing to do whatever it takes, but you’ll never reach that level of devotion until you can see your moral sense (or “conscience”) as something completely distinct from the rules and regulations you’ve learned from other people (as so-called “ethical behavior”).

Caucasian woman lying on bed

I now personally believe that in most cases, the ethical conflicts we have about our success STEM FROM OUR DEEP-SEATED NEED FOR APPROVAL, and serve as one of the biggest barriers to personal growth and positive change. Let’s get into some examples….

Some Examples & My Perspective On This…

Nas has a line in his song, “Something Foul,” that goes, “Am I charismatic enough? Does my charm reach people that can make a change? If I shoot with straight aim…at the positive target, and swoo them to make a deposit into MY account, is that really progress???

…which represents a major conflict all “conscious” artists share: “Is my work really making a difference at all?”, “Is it even right for me to make so much money from this?” and countless other ethical dilemmas that poison their productivity and creative focus.

A more common example is the abusive or parasitic partner leeching off the other, self-sacrificing one: “Can I really just kick his ass out on the street???” she wonders, as her “man” literally drains the lifeblood out of her every move.

Bottom line: you can’t be effective with anything important by riding its ethical-fence. When you’re too worried about the “rightness,” of what you already know you need to do, that preoccupation destroys your drive, undermines your productivity and NULLIFIES your ability to even think clearly and make healthy decisions in the first place.

asian man battling himself

Again, success requires you to do whatever it takes: to be committed enough to try whatever, be whatever, for however long and by any means necessary, so unless you’re 100% about the moves you need to make, you simply won’t make them in time…or, even worse, just won’t make them at all.

Wherever you see a lack of ambition, broken focus or hesitancy to make an important (an obvious) choice, an ethical hang up is somewhere in that person’s subconscious causing FRICTION…creating a dichotomy that defeats them before they even think to stand up.

And remember that life is complex: your challenges will NEVER perfectly line up with clear-cut definitions of right and wrong, and in this light, success in and of itself becomes one indefinite, perpetual act of identity-reform. It becomes the biggest ethical conflict because it’s actually asking you to transcend your own mentality, continuously…

What are your beliefs? How does the world work and how do the people in it operate? Who are you really? Is this truly how you want to continue to define yourself? Are you willing to give up this behavior (or idea, or person) for those more in line with what’ll bring you forward???

In other words, the triumphant, motivational, rags-to-riches success story is a childish one…a simplified narrative more reminiscent of the fairy-tales we’re told as infants than the reality of what success and progress truly entails.

In my experience, real success is a story of intense, internal psychological warfare: a journey to conquer yourself far too demanding for the average bear.

Knowing this, YOU can start by seeing yourself as a pure and honorable force: the clear, guilt-free conscious that comes from an identity which never questions itself leads to a motivation that knows no limitation.



  • Tiffany said:

    As usual!
    One of the reasons why I look forward to your post is because they are brief, enlightening and specific. Definitely a note to ponder for the visionaries, as always, we thank you.

  • Bryan Ogilvie (author) said:

    Thanks Queen…I just re-read it and learned a couple of things myself. We could go on until 2012 with this one subject alone.

  • Sepia Prince said:

    A debate can be held on the topic of ethics between folks and garner so may different opinions. But, a unifying factor, despite the difference of opinion, would have to be that our ethics usually are not manifested from our own “free will” but rather through external forces – ultimately, though, our intellect and experience gives those same ethics a life of it’s own creating “psychological warfare”. Excellent opinion-based piece, man.

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