Some guidance for breaking through barriers to peace and progress.
Ethics are universal principles that guide our behavior and our actions. Ethics have been largely ignored in modern society, especially in business, since ethics are mysterious to many. Peace is not sexy in an environment that thrives on competition. However, real progress cannot exist without peace and freedom. We are at a pivotal point in our history where our collective and individual freedom has been compromised by a lack of focus on ethics. There is a need for a common language and collective understanding of ethics more than ever before. To act ethically, the key question to ask when navigating a decision or circumstance is: What will promote the peace and progress of the individuals and the collective? Three things we often don’t realize about ethics hold us back from peace and potential.
1: Ethics are practiced toward ourselves and toward others.
Most of us, especially in the business world, have at some point felt the victim of some kind of unethical interpersonal behavior. When someone fails to tell you the truth, steals acknowledgment from you, or ignores your messages, they are treating you unethically. They are limiting the peace and progress of each person and the collective. It’s challenging to stop someone else’s unethical behavior. However, most people don’t realize that we also practice ethics toward ourselves and this is the place to start your ethical practice. We have the tendency to be unethical toward ourselves when incentivized by people or systems in power. We often limit our own peace and progress and blame it on others or the system. Always ask: What choice will truly lead toward peace and progress for me, as well as the others involved?
We have the tendency to be unethical toward ourselves when incentivized by people or systems in power.
The tricky part about practicing ethics toward ourselves is that it isn’t something written in the law or something easily traceable. It shouldn’t be, it’s part of the human experience in mindfulness and connection. However, this is why you must come back to the question yourself: What will promote the peace and progress of the individuals and the collective? If you’re keeping yourself tied to a job that drains you or you’re not acting in alignment with your beliefs, you’re acting unethically toward yourself. To practice ethics, search for or create a job that aligns with your beliefs and fuels peace and progress. If your boss treats you unethically, don’t become a victim. The most ethical thing you can do for yourself and the world is to find a new job. Don’t associate with or contribute to an unethical tribe. Practicing ethics toward yourself is self-love. Practicing ethics toward others is practicing love of humanity, as a whole. Practicing ethics toward yourself is often synonymous with practicing ethics toward others and the world, which bring us to the next realization…
2: Practicing ethics involves overcoming fear to act in alignment with what you truly believe in.
Our past limiting beliefs about people, the world, or ourselves often hold us back from moving in the most ethical direction. People and systems in power often hold us back from moving in the most ethical direction. It seems that people in power hold the keys to our money, praise, approval, and ultimately our survival. People in power direct the movement of the world, so it seems logical to act in alignment with what they want and advise. Many leaders in power have good intentions and great ideas. They are the ones to follow and learn from. However, some do not. You can feel it in your energy at work, motivation to contribute or meet with them, and in your overall physical and mental health.
It takes a load of courage to resist power and act in alignment with what you believe in, especially when you’re incentivized not to.
What many don’t realize is that practicing ethics involves overcoming fear in order to live in alignment with our core beliefs. We are often afraid of moving away from people in power for survival reasons. However, there are many other people in power that are ethical to follow. Also, we have more power on our own than we realize. When I need the courage to overcome fear, I often look to Gandhi. Gandhi’s mission was to fight for the freedom of collective humanity using non-violence. It takes a load of courage to resist power and act in alignment with what you believe in, especially when you’re incentivized not to. Gandhi shows us that even people in the position of relatively less power have the power to practice ethics by seeing clearly and overcoming fear. Living in alignment with our beliefs even affects us at the physical level. When we act in alignment with our beliefs instead of working against our beliefs, we feel more free and less stressed. Health improves. This leads us to the next realization…
3 – Practicing ethics often entails letting go of safety, possessions, approval, and praise in order to truly serve yourself and humanity.
Overcoming fear comes with letting go of a cause, affiliation, belief, or practice in order to move toward a more ethical version of the world and ourselves. As I mentioned in the previous section, we are often afraid of moving away from, or letting go of, people or systems in power that seem to support our survival. However, are you holding back from supporting or creating something that will align with your beliefs and move humanity forward? Are you holding back from moving past a limiting belief about a group of people or a way of life that may actually offer more connection and potential?
Ethics entails serving yourself and humanity in a larger sense. Ethics requires thinking outside the conditioned box.
Looking back to Gandhi, he showed that practicing ethics often entails letting go of possessions, limiting beliefs, and specific expectations in order to move toward real, collective peace and progress. Yes, you must have what you need to live – we all have basic survival needs – but is what you are telling yourself you need more than you truly need to really have freedom? Do you have access to what you need without acting against what you believe in and continuing to follow an unethical leader? Ethics is selfless in that way. Ethics entails serving yourself and humanity in a larger sense. Ethics requires thinking outside the conditioned box. Ethics involves seeing through bullshit, figuring out what you believe in, and shedding unethical associations, causes, jobs, leadership, and practices, to live on behalf of yourself and humanity.
Ethics will save our humanity: our peace and our progress.
Ethics are the structure for a free society. You may have noticed that the three things I mentioned are all things leaders must do: support themselves and others, overcome fear and gain courage, and let go of ways that beliefs that don’t serve collective progress. By practicing ethics, you are leading your life and leading by example for others to follow. With ethics, you are a better leader. With ethics, you are a better human and we are a better version of humanity. Remember your ethics. Remember your humanity.
With ethics, you are a better leader. With ethics, you are a better human and we are a better version of humanity. Remember your ethics. Remember your humanity.
In my new book, Awake Ethics, I present a system and common language of ethics in practice. Learn the ten principles and begin practicing ethics toward yourself and others. Awake Ethics contains practical yet soulful guidance & exercises for putting the ten ethical principles into practice in your everyday work and life.
Thanks for reading!