What motivates you? To a certain extent that question is an over simplification. I suppose that very rarely is there just one motivation for any action. Generally speaking, however, I do believe we can look at our actions and sense some common motivations running through them. We learn a lot about ourselves when we examine our motivations and look at how often they have to do with ourselves compared with how often they are more altruistic. Stated more directly, how often are we motivated primarily by personal gain and how often are we motivated by a sense of what is right?
Of course, the two motivations do not necessarily have to conflict, but often they do conflict. At what point does personal gain outweigh what we instinctively know is the right thing to do? Is there a question of profit? Is $10 enough to get us to do the wrong thing, or $100, or $1000? Do we really all have a price at which we can be bought? Perhaps most importantly, what price do we pay as human beings when we make the wrong choice?
In my experience, people who are constantly looking to get ahead at the expense of others pay a price for that in their lives. Most often they do not make the connection, but the added stress levels in their lives prove that something is amiss. The truth is that constant scheming and looking to work every angle possible is tremendously stressful. We deceive ourselves into believing that we are not bothered by our actions, but our bodies tell us otherwise.
The sad thing is that we are not talking about major decisions. We aren’t talking about people who are trying to decide whether or not to kill someone. We are talking about people who shortchange others, or run up bills without ever intending to pay, or who overcharge others, or who cheat on their expense reports. These seemingly minor issues do add up – not in the mind of God, but in our own minds. There is also more than a little irony in the fact that many of the people who routinely cheat others are absolutely livid when they feel someone has done the same to them!
Integrity is under rated in our society. Anyone who follows the media regularly learns of high profile examples of those who seek to cheat others. Pensions are destroyed, corporations bankrupted, lives ruined – all in the name of greed. The only way this is ever going to change is if on a very grass roots level we refuse to compromise. We must be willing to become people of integrity and to insist on the same behavior from all we meet. Nothing less will do!