Stephen Covey’s kids shared a story about a time when they were all criticizing the (then) candidate for US President. He sat silent through the criticism. Finally, one of the kids asked him why he wasn’t participating. He said – “I might have a chance to influence him one day. And if I do, then I don’t want to be a hypocrite.”
Recently, The New York Times reported that Facebook was developing a tool designed to suppress updates from certain parts of China. I found hypocrisy all around that piece of news. There was implied American moral superiority in the press at the idea of suppressing citizen views. Yet, as Edward Snowden and the recent elections have demonstrated, America has little reason to claim higher ground. Then, I saw posts from other technology entrepreneurs criticizing Mark Zuckerberg. But, would they have behaved any different if they were in Zuckerberg’s shoes? And, finally, Zuckerberg himself seemed to claim that this was Facebook acting for the greater good. I guess we all have to tell ourselves stories…
I thought I’d call this out not just because it was amusing looking at this situation from the sidelines. But, also because it made me think about the many occasions in which I was the hypocrite.
It is hard to see it when you are in it.
There is no easy way around this. The only way to avoid this is to have incredibly high standards for integrity – where we take the initiative to make commitments and keep them, every single time.
I just hope I’ll be able to build the sort of character to be able to do what Covey did, consistently. Integrity is a habit.