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Doing the Right Thing

April 2017
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Who doesn’t know Google? In fact, who doesn’t use Google on a regular basis? And as a matter of fact, I couldn’t do what I do on my blog posts without Google. Even my email address is a Gmail (Google) address.

I love Google. . . .

Yesterday I found a book titled, How Google Works (2014), by Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google and Executive Chairman of Alphabet Inc., and Jonathan Rosenberg, former Senior Vice President of Products at Google and current advisor to Alphabet Inc. CEO Larry Page, on the bargain book table at Barnes and Noble, and I couldn’t resist buying it (and for under $4.00, too). Now before it gets too confusing, Alphabet Inc. is “an American multinational conglomerate founded on October 2, 2015, by the two founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, with Page serving as CEO and Brin as President. It is the parent company of Google and several other companies previously owned by them. The company is based in Mountain View, California, at Googleplex. The reorganization of Google into Alphabet was completed on October 2, 2015.” (Quote source here.)

The motto of Google’s corporate code of conduct has been Don’t be evil since it was “first introduced around 2000. Following Google’s corporate restructuring under the conglomerate Alphabet Inc. in October 2015, the motto was replaced in the Alphabet corporate code of conduct by the phrase ‘Do the right thing’; however, the Google code of conduct is still prefaced by the phrase ‘Don’t be evil’.” (Quote source here.)

I find it interesting that the original motto was stated as “Don’t be evil” instead of “Don’t do evil” (a discussion on how it came to be “Don’t be evil” is available at this link). “Be” seems to indicates something that we are, and “do” seems to indicate something we do or have done. In a 2010 devotion titled, The Difference between Doing and Being,” Dr. Charles Swindoll, senior pastor at Stonebriar Community Church, author, educator, and radio host and teacher at Insight for Living, states:

Doing is usually connected with a vocation or career, how we make a living. Being is much deeper. It relates to character, who we are, and how we make a life. Doing is tied in closely with activity, accomplishments, and tangible things—like salary, prestige, involvements, roles, and trophies. Being, on the other hand, has more to do with intangibles, the kind of people we become down inside, much of which can’t be measured by objective yardsticks and impressive awards. But of the two, being will ultimately outdistance doing every time. It may take half a lifetime to perfect . . . but hands down, it’s far more valuable. And lasting. And inspiring. (Quote source here.)

“. . . of the two, being will ultimately outdistance doing every time” regardless of how long it takes to perfect. Being is intrinsic; whereas doing is external. So, the switch from “Don’t be evil” (the Google motto) to “Do the right thing” (the Alphabet Inc. motto), is in the right order. What we are (as in “be”) determines what we do (whether vocational or in actions), and in order to “do the right thing,” it is determined by who we are deep down inside of us.

In the “Introduction” to How Google Works,” there is a discussion about a seasoned CEO who invested a lot of time helping out a young executive at a different company in Silicon Valley. The seasoned CEO was asked why he invested so much time in the young executive, and he stated, “This is the way Silicon Valley works. We’re here to help you” (p. 22). The following two paragraphs come after this discussion:

Steve Jobs, the late founder and CEO of Apple, who often provided his neighbor Larry Page with advice, had a more colorful way of expressing this same spirit. Our friend Leslie Berlin, the Silicon Valley historian, was researching a biography on Intel co-founder Bob Noyce, and asked Steve during and interview why he had spent so much time with Noyce early in his career. “It’s like what Schopenhauer said about the conjurer,” Steve replied. He retrieved a book of essays by 19th century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, and read her a passage from one with the chipper title of “On the Sufferings of the World”: “He who lives to see two or three generations is like a man who sits some time in the conjurer’s booth at a fair, and witnesses the performance twice or thrice in succession. The tricks were meant to be seen only once, and when they are no longer a novelty and cease to deceive, their effect is gone.” (Quote from Arthur Schopenhauer, “Essays and Aphorisms,” Penguin, 1970.)

We [the two authors of “How Google Works”] both came to Google as seasoned business executives who were pretty confident in our intellects and abilities. But over the humbling course of a decade, we came to see the wisdom in John Wooden‘s observation that “it’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” We had a front-row seat as we helped our founders and colleagues create a magnificent company–you might say that we saw the conjurers at work–and used it to relearn everything we thought we knew about management. Today we see all sorts of companies and organizations, big and small, from all industries and all over the world, come to Silicon Valley to see if they can soak up the insights and energy that make it such a special place. People are eager for change, and that’s what this book is about: In the spirit of our forefathers here in Silicon Valley, we’d like to share some of the conjurers’ secrets and translate them into lessons that anyone can use. (Quote source, “How Google Works,” pp. 21-23).

“The humbling course of a decade”. . . . we all have those moments (or perhaps as long as a decade) that humble us and let us know that we don’t “know it all” after all. And we all have a tendency to think we know it all, too (and age doesn’t matter–the young do it just as much as the old do it). And when it comes to “doing the right thing” we are often subjective as to what, exactly, is the right thing to do.

In a blog post titled, Why Doing the Right Thing is Always the Right Thing,” by Dan Waldschmidt, business strategist, former CEO, speaker, and ultra-runner, he states:

It is not always easy to do the right thing. At times it can be hard to know what the right thing even is.

Bad personal experiences and stressful work environments make long-term thinking and personal morals a challenge to execute consistently. Or even at all.

Life comes at you fast.

So fast that it’s natural to react to life experiences by making the choice that is least painful at the moment. By choosing to relieve temporary uncomfortableness with a decision to get you out of trouble for the moment.

But most of the time, the fast decision is the wrong decision. The easy decision is the wrong decision. The decision that fixes “right now” is the wrong decision.

The fact that you feel forced into the decision makes the odds of you making the right decision even harder.

You’re not thinking straight.

Your view of the world is screwed up.

It’s biased in a big way. Your mind and body is screaming at you to do whatever it takes to relieve the pressure and pain that is squeezing down on you at the moment.

So it’s important to remember how important making the right decision really is.

The truth is that what your life becomes is a direct result of all the stressed-out, painful short-term decisions you make each and every day. Each decision contributes to the results that you will realize one day. You are creating your future.

If you make the wrong decisions consistently — even small ones — you will end up with results that are embarrassing and expose you to be the fraud that you really were all along.

If you consistently take the “easy way” and pursue shortcuts in the hope of “getting rich quick”, then you’ll find yourself in a future where you continue to be poor — mentally and financially.

If you blame others for your mistakes and refuse to take correction or learn from bad decisions that you have made in the past, then the results of your life will only be misery and arrogance.

You will become the person you decide to be.

Which is why doing the right thing is always the right thing to do. Because doing the wrong thing molds you into the type of person that you don’t want to be. And it doesn’t lead to the results and lifestyle that you want for yourself.

For a few short moments, making the wrong decision feels incredibly right. But that’s a guilty pleasure you will come to regret in the not-too-distant future.

Do the right thing.

It’s tough at time. But a lot easier than living in a world of misery and pain you’ve created with poor choices and short-sighted decisions.

It’s easier to just do the right thing. (Quote source here.)

Short-sighted decisions miss the bigger picture of life, and our warped perception of “reality” at the moment might cause us to do something with detrimental long term consequences. In a chapter titled, “Never Again Trust Someone or Something Flawless,” in his book, Never Go Back: 10 Things You’ll Never Do Again (2014), Dr. Henry Cloud, leadership expert, psychologist, and best-selling author, states:

Woody Allen said, “I hate reality, but it’s still the best place to get a good steak.” Said another way, “Real people may disappoint me, but they are the only ones you can have a relationship with.” Why is that? It all goes back to the Bible.

The book of Genesis says that God created a perfect world. It was ideal. The Garden of Eden was “paradise.”

But then, sin, or “missing the mark,” entered into the world. Humankind turned against God and his right way of doing things. Ever since then, the world has been an imperfect place with imperfect people. Those who accept this reality can find great goodness and satisfaction in this life; those who don’t are always thinking the paradise, or perfection, is out there somewhere–in a person, a job, a city, or a situation. So when a seemingly perfect person or situation presents itself to them, they fall for it. Suckers for an immature fantasy of life as Disneyland.

The problem is that the Bible tells us a reality: paradise, or perfection, in this world is gone forever. We can never go back (Genesis 3:24). Now, our only alternative–other than denial–is to embrace living life in an imperfect world, as imperfect people, with imperfect others. If we can accept that, our eyes are open to the imperfections in ourselves and others, and that gives us a keen vision for the real goodness as well.

But naive people are caught up in the fantasy that Eden is still available, and because of that, they are open to great seduction by people and situations that look too good to be true, and in fact are. They are nightmares.

Our culture has tabloids with stars who look as if their lives are ideal. They find the perfect mate–their “soul mate”–whom they have always been looking for. They live in perfect houses. They have perfect lives. People spend all their money and time trying to be like them–getting liposuction and buying clothes to emulate these remnants of Eden.

But go to the supermarket the next month and the same stars have just split with their perfect “soul mates” and the tabloid headline reads, “The Breakup: What Really Happened?” Or, they lose their perfect mansions to a drug addiction, or outrageous behavior destroys everything that looked so good.

Don’t buy into the Hollywood version of perfection or even the church version. Many times Christian groups can appear as if they have it all together as well–as if their spiritual lives hold no struggle or pain or defeat. That is not the story of the Bible. God is real, not a fantasy, and he invites us into a real spiritual life and a real life on this earth. The good news is that if we will embrace the “real” instead of the “ideal,” we can often find experiences of heaven on earth.

So be on the lookout for good and real, not perfect and ideal. Look for people and situations that have great goodness but are also aware of their imperfections and are working on them. If you do that, you will find rich, fulfilling people, situations, employees, employers, friends, churches, and the like. There is real goodness in this world. But if we are looking for perfect, we will have to go to another world altogether. And that is a fantasy.

If you are dating, look for a person who is aware of his or her issues and struggles, as well as all the things you are attracted to. If you are looking for a church, find one that has a community of fellow strugglers along the journey of life. If you are looking for a circle of friends, find one where the people are real, not trying to look perfect or ideal. Look for people who are humble and able to laugh at themselves–those who are aware of themselves and are not troubled by their own kookiness. And by the way–strive to be that kind of person yourself.

Repent from the pursuit of “perfection.” Whether trying to be perfect or looking for it elsewhere, repent. Once you do, you’ll “never go back.” (Quote source: “Never Go Back,” pp. 107-109.)

The lines between right and wrong are often totally blurred in our culture today. And our justification for doing bad stuff for momentary pleasure or to others “just because” is endless, but there is always a price that will eventually be paid. And James 4 puts it right out there for us to see:

What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.

You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him. And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say,

“God opposes the proud
        but gives grace to the humble.”

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

Warning against Judging Others

Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?

Warning about Self-Confidence

Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil.

Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it. (James 4 NLT)

In most situations we usually know what the right thing is to do even if it is very difficult. Do it anyway. . . .

Don’t be evil . . .

And do . . .

The right thing . . . .

YouTube Video: “Doing What’s Right Song” Fun for Kids (and a reminder for adults):

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

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