An open letter to my children about values

An open letter to my children about values

Dear T & C,

I’d like to talk to you about a few recent events. Events that probably haven’t even registered on your radars; but events that, nevertheless, I believe warrant some attention.

In the last few weeks we’ve seen leaders of the Australian Cricket team intentionally engage in dishonest behaviour and in a word, cheat. We’ve also seen leaders and senior employees within our banking and financial system engage in shockingly unethical behaviour.

I don’t personally know any of the people involved in these unethical acts; but after several decades of work as a clinical, academic and research psychologist I know enough about people to assume that these individuals are not necessarily all “bad”.

Which begs the question: why do “good” people do “bad” things?

Now that’s a far more complex question than it might at first appear; but for the purposes of this “open letter” and at the risk of oversimplifying I’d like to focus on just one aspect of what I think took place (and not just in these two examples but in many others that seem to be making our newsfeeds of late).

In my humble opinion, these types of situations result when individuals, teams, organisations and even societies place outcomes such as success and wealth above core values. When the “ends” is defined as some narrow version of “success” and is considered to justify any “means” (or whatever it takes) then … well, everything becomes valueless!

As I hope you know, I’ve worked hard in my personal and professional life to achieve what I believe to be some degree of success. In almost every way, I’ve nothing against success or wealth.

But, and this is an important “but”, I do believe that in our efforts to achieve these outcomes we need to “do right” and consider others, and that no outcome is worth more than trust and honesty, loyalty and dedication, compassion and caring.

And so it is that I encourage you to work hard and strive for whatever “success” you want in life. But at the same time, I urge you not to lose sight of what’s REALLY important and to remember that success at the cost of others, or at the cost of your integrity, is really no success at all.

Your Loving Dad