Reasons and Rationalisations

Writers and actors often create backstories to define and give depth and dimension to their characters. Similarly, you should examine your history and generate a “self-story” that captures the truth of your experiences, beliefs and goals. This will help you have the courage to voice and act on your values. This also will help you structure a self-image framework that will support you in the future when you make the choice to speak up and act based on your values. The traits that emerge as you construct your profile might not directly connect with your values, but they should reflect your general behaviour. It doesn’t matter whether you consider yourself to be, for example, risk-tolerant or risk averse, more contrarian or more agreeable. However, it does matter that you know your style, strengths, limits and preferences so you can formulate them into useful tools. Explore five areas of personal knowledge: stating your purpose, understanding your tolerance of risk, communicating in a genuine way, defining who or what deserves your loyalty, and developing a strong self-image. Other people will offer implicit or assumed explanations to justify actions that seem wrong. Their rationales during values-based conflicts will affect your potential response. You might suffer from a “nagging doubt” that makes you feel uneasy day after day, or you might be caught in the middle of a breach of ethics that challenges your loyalty to your company’s best interests and your own. Identify and prepare for ethical challenges that arise commonly in your field, such as the potential for conflicts of interest that often plague the finance sector. Preparation will give you the tools you need. For instance, take steps now to be ready if someone claims that everybody does things in a fraudulent way, or that breaking a certain rule doesn’t really hurt anybody, or that somebody else said to commit a misdeed. Remember the following:
  • Your arguments don’t have to be “entirely unassailable and perfect.”
  • Sometimes your gut response is the best tactic but stay alert to unexpected arguments.
  • Even if you feel as if you must use your voice “now or never,” you always can find ways to stall for time – even if just a few minutes – to prepare an unpressured response.
  • People find courage in their own ways. Self-knowledge is the best motivator of inspired action.

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