Monday, May 30, 2005

Life Principles

Last week, I had the pleasure of presenting a talk entitled Bridging the Gap Between Technology and Business at the DAMA International Symposium and Wilshire Meta-Data Conference. During my stay in Orlando, I had the privilege of attending a keynote lecture presented by Bruce Weinstein, Ph.D., also known as The Ethics Guy. Bruce has just written a new book entitled “Life Principles.
The core operating principles of my company, Flashmap Systems, pretty closely align, at least at the top level, with the Life Principles presented by Bruce Weinstein:

  • Do No Harm
  • Make Things Better
  • Respect Others
  • Be Fair
  • Be Nice
The Ethic Guy's presentation, of course, delved deeper into ethical questions, such as how, or why, to live by Life Principles. For instance, Respect Others involves confidentiality, telling the truth, and keeping promises. As any spouse caught cheating can attest, once trust is betrayed, it's awfully hard to ever get back.

Weinstein explored many questions of fairness, such as distributive justice which asks, How do you fairly divide portions among people?
  • equal shares to everyone
  • based on need
  • according to the amount of effort expended
  • in accordance with the size of one's contribution
  • based on merit
  • determined by free-market exchange
A different facet of fairness involves what's known as retributive justice. In other words, How do you punish fairly so that the punishment fits the crime? Another factor of fairness, called rectifactory justice, pertains to rectifying a situation. That is, How can you make wrong things right again?

Finally, the last of Weinstein's Life Principles, which is actually called Be Loving, not Be Nice, is virtually identical to the advice doled out by one of my personal heroes, Dale Carnegie -- author of the first blockbuster self-help book entitled How To Win Friends and Influence People. Dale Carnegie had an understanding of human nature that will never be outdated. His book, originally published during the Great Depression back in 1937, explains the underlying principles of dealing with people so that they feel important and appreciated. Carnegie explains how you can make someone want to do what you want them to by seeing the situation from the other person's point of view and "arousing in the other person an eager want." His advice is simple:
  • Smile
  • Display genuine interest (i.e., Listen deeply)
  • Show appreciation to others
Bruce Weinstein has done a great job of identifying fundamental ethical principles that have stood the test of time. The sources of these Life Principles represent the intersecting overlap that is common to all religions. Weinstein highly recommended a book by Jeffrey Moses entitled: Oneness: Great Principles Shared by All Religions,


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