If it hasn’t already, the day will come when you will arrive at fork in the road in your professional career.

One path lacks integrity but offers short-term gain. The second path is ethically prudent but risks immediate fall-out and lost opportunity. 

A wise leader will always choose the second path. 

A foolish leader will rationalize an excuse to choose the first path.

A more sophisticated foolish leader will make his case for the unethical path. He will justify his lack of integrity with extenuating circumstances, morbid portrayals of worst-case scenarios, or reframing the decision as a Hobson’s choice. 

The wise king who wrote the Proverbs had a name for these kinds of foolish leaders: schemer.

“Whoever plans to do evil will be called a schemer. The devising of folly is sin, and the scoffer is an abomination to mankind.”  (Proverbs 24:8-9)

The upside down business idea is this: No business or personal objective is worth straying from a path of integrity — even for a moment.

Foolish leaders fall into the trap of believing their own rationalizations or excusing their behavior as being a one time occurrence.  They defend their faulty logic with the axiom that desperate times call for desperate measures.

But in the very next verse, the wise king warned that only the weak let desperate times destroy their integrity. “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” (Proverbs 24:10)

The days will seem dark. The future will seem bleak. And the storm may tempt you to choose the wrong path. Fight against despair. Don’t trade your soul for a dollar.

The wise king has a promise for those who choose wisdom over expedience, “Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off.” (Proverbs 24:14)

Seek wisdom. Find wise counselors. Have courage. Make the right choice.

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