“There have been times when I could have succumbed to some form of bribe, or could have had my way by offering one. But ever since that night in Dover prison I have never been tempted to break my vow. My Parents always drummed into me that all you have life is your reputation: you may be very rich, but if you lose your good name you’ll never be happy.”
― Richard Branson, Losing My Virginity: How I’ve Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way
There is the school of thought which would say happiness cannot buy money, but they pretend that money buys happiness. Its only the ones who pretend the latter, that splash their money all over the city to show off their illgotten wealth and seem happy. The hard working rich people dont have to pretend and show their happiness, because they are truly happy and have made a reputation for good business. They dont need publicity and interviews to prove that they do business and earn money the legal way in line with good governance.
I was impressed with what Richard Branson said about bribery. If each and every one of us don’t pay a bribe to get ahead, illegally, then there would be no bribe takers? In our society professionalism is being replaced with bribery. A common example is, one can file a tax return with professional advice on how to maximize the benefits or simply bribe the relevant tax officer and don’t pay any tax. So persons have made a reputation for saving taxes, notoriously, by bribes rather than professional knowledge. Such dishonesty pays well!
If someone is dishonest in any aspect of his life you can be guaranteed that he will be dishonest in many aspects of his life. You cannot dismiss even those little acts of dishonesty, such as the person who overstates an expense claim in office. After all, if a person cannot be trusted in the simplest matters of honesty then how can they possibly be trusted to uphold lengthy and complex business contracts?
Warren Buffet, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway said it best:, “In looking for people to hire, look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don’t have the first one, the other two will kill you.” A person’s dishonesty will eventually catch up to them. It may not be today, and it may not be for many years, but you can rest assured that at some point there will always be a reckoning.
Bottomline is, the end does not justify the means. Building a reputation of integrity takes years, but it takes only a second to lose, so never allow yourself to ever do anything that would damage your integrity. This way you don’t have to keep looking over your shoulders for the law to catch up with you. Peace of mind and happiness need not be valued in monetary terms.