Let's Digress

Transparency, Part 2 [Revised and Updated]

Updated 2/22/2015

In Part One, we covered what End Justifies the Means ethics were, we met the real-yet-fictional Mr. Corbel, and we introduced concepts of “ownership” and “transparency.” Click Part One to go back to Part One.


Generally speaking, End Justifies the Means ethicists will have an aversion towards transparency and upfront honesty. They also tend to dislike thinking about anything in black-and-white terms; everything is, or should be, a relative (“gray”) issue to them.
With so many people being “gray” about everything, it’s no mystery why transparency is socially and culturally abnormal.

Mr. Corbel and I disagreed on several different fundamental levels. During our conversation, I asked him questions about why he believes and acts the way he does. Actually, he got visibly upset and angry with me at one point because of my questions. They weren’t difficult questions; I was mainly just asking him, “Why?”

Sure, I can be tactless and overly blunt sometimes when I ask questions, but I wasn’t this time; I was treading carefully on a thin layer of ice covered with eggshells.

He didn’t like it because it made him question his worldview and morality. He had never critically thought about why he believes and behaves like he does. He just stopped at “everyone else does it, so it must be okay.”

In all honesty, he took me down several different metaphorical rabbit holes with his reasons and rationale for his behavior. He had a lot of long and elaborate answers that all boiled down to one thing: A lack of ownership on his part.

In all of Mr. Corbel’s answers, not one of them mentioned anything even remotely being his fault. It was always someone else’s fault that he behaved and believed like he did, never his own. It was society’s fault that he was deceptive and manipulative; it was his wife’s fault for making him flirt with other women; it was his parents’ fault for teaching him how to cheat; it was the American Business Culture that caused him to have a hidden agenda; it was that one famous person who put that status on a social media site which made him willing to step on other peoples’ throats to get to the top. He never chose any of that himself.

False. He chose all of it himself. It’s a choice to behave that way; no one can force you to.

Mr. Corbel has an ownership issue, among many others. He was appalled at the mere thought of transparency, because he knew that his behavior was wrong and being transparent would bring all of that to light. If things are in the light, then there isn’t any darkness (vagueness/deception), so everything is out in the open for everyone to see.

That adds a lot of gravity to it.

Being completely transparent about our intentions, beliefs, agendas, and behavior significantly ups the stakes. A lot.

We all behave better when we know the spotlight is on us. Why do employees behave better and tuck their shirts in when they know the CEO is going to be making a visit? Because they know they’re going to be in the spotlight and under the microscope while he’s there.

I always say that people who hate “judging” are usually doing something questionable which they shouldn’t be doing to begin with. After all, if we own our behaviors, actions, opinions, and beliefs, and are transparent about them, then we should be completely fine with being “judged.”

Being transparent, as a way of life, will always put us center stage, in the spotlight, and in the hot seat. We will continuously be judged by our behaviors, opinions, and actions. Actually, we’ll be judged by other people regardless, because everyone judges all the time. If we’re transparent, we’ll just have a better outcome and know ahead of time about being in the hot seat.

If we have a “straight stick” and are morally and ethically upright, owning what is ours and being transparent about it, we have nothing to worry about. Bring it on. Challenge accepted.

As for Mr. Corbel, he was living out some very questionable things and had even more questionable behaviors, actions, and beliefs. No wonder he wanted to hide in the shadows and not own what was his to own.

We all know a Mr. Corbel. In fact, many of us know several Mr. Corbel’s. He’s a coworker, a family member, a friend, another relative, that acquaintance we talked to that one time. We all know him. The question is, do we know how to conduct ourselves appropriately with him? Do we know how to draw a healthy boundary to separate us from him?

Several Mr. Corbi (plural for Corbel) will be reading this eventually. Some will hate it, because it hits too close to home, but (hopefully) others will love it. Possibly because they might not yet realize that they are a Mr. Corbel. The question for them is, 1) Do they know they’re him? And, 2) Will they be willing to change?

The road of transparency is long and difficult, but it speaks volumes without having to use words.

Character says, “This is what I’m about. This is me.” Ownership says, “Yeah, those traits are all mine. Those were my actions back there. These are my beliefs and my opinions.” Transparency says, “Oh yes, go right on ahead and take a look around. Full disclosure. In fact, let me give you a tour myself.”

Transparency takes a massive amount of courage, character, humility, and ownership to accomplish. It’s not for the faint of heart or for those with delicate stomachs.

It will oftentimes lead to questioning, judgment, and ridicule by those who love being vague and deceptive.

But in the end, a straight stick is always more valuable than a crooked one.

In the long run, transparency, character, and ownership will win out.

Those are the people who succeed in life and business.

Those are the people who have a positive impact on those around them.

Those are the people who improve society and change cultural norms.

Those are the people who leave a legacy others are proud of.

Those are the people who change the world.

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