It is often said that the only thing that is constant in the present day is change. Societal norms play a large part in our personal norms, beliefs and philosophies. While in some cases it may be a good thing, for instance the way technology has improved our methods of doing business, more often societies norms slowly erode the basic values that are foundational and fundamental to society and organizations.
Many societal norms, in the interest of having more “fun” in life, have caused a severe and serious decline in personal morals and ethics. All one has to do is watch the many advertisements, movies and television shows that have not only corrupted our morals, but also degraded the work ethic of the populace, more especially among our young men. Young men today seem confused and confounded by the excessive male-bashing video clips more favorable of the opposite gender causing them to question the importance of their personal manhood and integrity.
Hollywood’s view of open sexuality, some Judicial rulings and political actions have slowly replaced many of the country’s basic religious beliefs in the name of personal pleasure, abortion and “separation of church and state” under the First Amendment to the Constitution. The ever increasing numbers of legal actions against people who exercise little or no personal integrity also permeate the media, which educates our populace toward changing their basic core values – values that Americans have maintained for the past 200-plus years.
I’m reminded of a speech given by now retired United States Marine Corps (USMC) General, now President of Birmingham-Southern College, Charles C. Krulak in which he tells of the gradual erosion of the Roman Legionnaires1 sense of personal integrity through the influence of the “politically correct” Praetorians or Imperial Bodyguards. During the time of the 12 Caesars at their morning inspections, the Legionnaires would strike with their right fist the armor breastplate that covered their heart and yell “Integritas” (In-teg-re-tas), which in Latin meant material wholeness, completeness and entirety. In other words, the integrity of the armor and the man was sound, solid and completely un-impregnable.
The politically correct Praetorians had the finest equipment and armor (i.e. latest technology). They no longer had to shout “Integritas” as their armor was sound. Instead they would shout “Hail Caesar” to signify that their heart, and subsequently their integrity and loyalty, belonged to the imperial personage – not their unit, institution nor their code of ideals, i.e. their core values.
Although the Legionnaires continued to hold fast to their belief, even while changing the shout to “Integer” to indicate their completeness in integrity, the steady social decline had its effects upon the Legion. Slowly because of laziness, parade ground drills were abandoned, the armor became to heavy to carry and was cast aside, resulting in a loss of personal integrity as well.2
Fast forwarding to the current era, society has taken on some of the declining habits of the Legionnaires. For example, we pay more attention to our smart phones during meetings because our distractions are more fun than the boring meeting.
Similarly, as the heavy armor was cumbersome and uncomfortable, coat and ties give way to Business Casual or relaxed fix jeans and sport shirts. Family nights and weekend football game preclude attending church or some other community service activity. The idea of making a donation to promote some community function is easier than joining in service to the community.
King Solomon also tells us in one of his writings in Proverbs that “The man of integrity walks securely”, that “the integrity of the upright guides them, and that “righteousness guards the man of integrity.”3
In a recent group discussion on the social website LinkedIn, the question was asked, “Should work be fun?” There was an article accompanying the question that focused on how to have fun at work through the addition of “organized fun activities” to enhance the workplace environment. My comment, which did result in some positive feedback, included the following:
The “fun” is in the “doing” – accomplishing the mission and turning the vision into reality. Rewards, recognitions, cakes and punch are the affirmations of the “doing,” the accomplishing, the developing the experience and improving excellence.
We need to quit worrying about having fun all the time, number one because it is not always fun due to challenges, issues and concerns, and two because the intrinsic rewards are long-term and more important than the short-term gifts of fun-time Charlie things.
I tend to focus more in what motivational speaker Mike Frank calls “Leadership PRIDE – Personal Responsibility In Developing Excellence.” I added three other “E” parts: Everyone or Ethics or Experience. Fun is about Intrinsic Rewards. Keep the Quest Alive!
Note: “Great Time” image above not associated with LinkedIn Group or the referenced article.4
The idea of having fun in the workplace often lowers standards of common decency that results in sexual harassment comments, unprofessionalism, workplace attire and behaviors that results in questionable integrity of employees.
President John F. Kennedy once said, “I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit.” 5
I believe the “fun” comes from the intrinsic rewards gained from the servant leadership of all employees as they see their accomplishments from their personal efforts, and as they improve in their own lives and the leadership they exhibit as a result of their personal growth. I believe it is my contribution to the human spirit to which President Kennedy referred in his quote.
For years now, when speaking to my Navy Junior ROTC students, I have reminded them that their name and their integrity is what they will take with them to their grave. I can only hope that I am remembered for my contribution to the human spirit as a result of my personal integrity.
Let’s get back to basics of morals and ethics. Integritas!
1. Roman Legionnaire by Augusto Kapronczai retrieved from Warrior in Art Blogspot at http://warriorsinart.blogspot.com/2012/05/roman-legionnaire-by-augusto-kapronczai.html
2. Excerpts from the Keynote address for JSCOPE 2000 by General Charles C. Krulak.
3. NIV Leadership Bible – Leadership Principles from God’s Word, Proverbs 10:9; 11:3; 13:6.
4. “Have a great time” image retrieved on 2/2/2014 from Force 10 Coaching at http://force10coaching.com/2011/04/23/having-fun-at-work/.
5. Retrieved on 2/2/2014 from Book of Famous Quotes at http://famous-quotes.com/topic.php?tid=579.