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November, 2013

Money Moral Dilemma: Keys to Your Business and Personal Prosperity

By Garrett B. Gunderson

Have you ever known someone in your life who was so good at lying that they even believed their own stories? When I was younger, I had a quasi-friend who was this way. It never ceased to amaze me how much damage and drama he was able to bring to his own life. Because he believed his own deceptions, he was able to justify nearly anything by blaming the circumstances and consequences on other people, rather than himself.

This might sound way out of the ordinary, but recent experiences prove to me that far too many people have the capacity to lie, damage their lives immensely, and still believe they are the victim; or even worse, convince themselves they are doing the right thing.

Why would they do this? Let's take at look at how susceptible anyone can be to this due to one major aspect of life: finances.

The Money Moral Dilemma

chasing money - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark The Money Moral Dilemma's currency is rationalization and justification. This dilemma can be found when scarcity is running the show or when someone is threatened financially.

So, otherwise good people start making bad decisions due to the pressure of making a living or in the name of putting food on the table, or even preserving their current stature or lifestyle. This isn't just when good people do bad things; it's when they do bad things and convince themselves they did the right thing or at least did the wrong thing for the right reasons.

A simple example might be someone who works for a cigarette company in spite of the fact that they know cigarettes are killing people. They simply justify feeding their family as an end that justifies their means. To this person, they are doing nothing wrong ... even though their actions are out of alignment with what they believe if money weren't a part of the equation.

Another example is the small coal-mining town where I grew up. Most of the town works for the coal mines and the economy is based upon those mines continuing to operate. When the government passes new laws to require cleaner air standards, it threatens the mines and the townspeople get scared.

They know clean-air standards are a good thing. Deep down, they understand the damage that is happening to the environment, but they justify not being upset or fighting the system in order to keep their paycheck.

Why don't these people find another job or see the bigger picture? It's all based around fear and uncertainty.

At some point in life, you've probably been in a bad relationship, whether it was a person or business, right? In those types of relationships, people stick around way too long because in spite of the bad situation, it is familiar.

People know what to expect. It's predictable. It is certain and familiar. On the other hand, leaving the relationship would require one to move into unknown territory, and instinctively this scares people into staying.

The Money Moral Dilemma works under the same pretense. In the name of financial stability, people will often lie, cheat and steal in order to preserve their job. They will sacrifice their normal moral compass by justifying that feeding their family supersedes the other ethical codes they normally observe. Now this isn't something they would say out loud or even think through clearly, but let's take a look at our economy to better understand it.

It is impossible for someone to know the truth when their income depends upon a lie. Enron is a perfect example. Those who had the best insight and access, and could have exposed the lie, had no incentive to do so or they would lose their job, lose their income and thus risk feeding their family (or at least that's what they would say).

Let's pause for a minute. What would it really take for someone not to feed their family? If I had zero dollars, I still have relationship capital. I could ask my family to feed me temporarily. I could go to friends, people who I have created value for in the past, or even a shelter. But the worst-case scenario in the mind prevents us from this logic due to the deep level of scarcity and possibility of feeling like a failure, looking like a failure to someone we care about, or letting our family down. The motivators for survival are one of the deepest concerns we have as human beings and create the justification for the wrongdoing.

Justifying Lies

I'm telling you this because I see far too many of our doctors doing this very thing in their lives financially, and I want to help you stop before it catches up with you. I'm talking about justifying not having any sort of basic life, health or disability insurance because you're young, healthy, and won't get disabled or need a death benefit for years ... yet in the back of your mind you know that if you had a catastrophic health issue or passed away tomorrow, your family would be in dire circumstances.

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