We were in a hotel, two hours away from dinner, my son was starving and driving me crazy. ”I don’t have any food for you! What do you want me to do?” I asked. He pointed to the minibar and reminded me that there is lots of food in there. With a sigh I opened it up and he was quick to see the Snickers bar staring us in the face. I caved and he chowed; everyone was happy.
I paid $2.15 for that before dinner treat but in a stoke of luck, out exploring, I noticed a heap of snickers bars for sale at the convenience store for only $.60. I bought a few and when I got back to the I hotel tossed one back in the minibar only to notice the error of my ways. Every item in the minibar had a hotel sticker on it so they would know about people, like me, who ate and replaced. Annoying.
I couldn’t pass off my Snickers bar as one of the hotel’s Snickers bars. Not a big deal in the end. What is a big deal is when people try to pass off work as their own, instead of giving credit to the person who created it. No sticker to stop it from happening, it does happen, every day.
Does Magnitude Matter? Does Intention? Heart?
- A tweet that is not credited
- A photo on Facebook, pulled off Google, with some inspiring words pasted on top
- A blog post that you spent many hours writing, reblogged without permission
- eBooks intended for subscribers, reshared in a public forum
- Client deliverables, passed off as new, that are simply a “find and replace” of client names
- Proprietary processes that people bring from one org to another with every job shift
- A leader that presents positive results with a proud “I did this.” Ummm… Hello?? McFly?? What about the team?
- You buy one seat at a webinar and invite your entire team in to listen and learn
- On and on and on
Coming from the woman who tried to replace the Snickers bar, I know that sounds funny. Good news? I learned from my actions. Learning was more than “don’t try this again” it was a new carving in my moral code that will be with me moving forward. We all have to know where our personal lines in the sand are drawn, make choices and live with our decisions.
Wikipedia says it well when they include “consistency” in their definition of integrity. If you live by a sliding moral code, values that are constantly shifting, how will others know what to expect from you? More importantly, will people give you their trust?
The Mirror Matters
Can you look at yourself in the mirror and feel good about your decisions? If so, good! You have to be able to live with yourself, guilt is a mighty foe. Keep looking and ask yourself:
- Do I feel the need to defend my choices?
- If I were on the other side of the table, would I care? Be offended? Hurt?
- Where do I draw the line?
You don’t look better by stealing (or “borrowing”) someone else’s spotlight, thought leadership or ideas. Leaders shine the brightest when they make other people look good and give them credit for their contribution. Not one of us lives in a bubble. There is little that any of us can do alone compared to what we can accomplish together. We are stronger together.
I know I have strong opinions on this one and you probably do too. However, I’m not a fan of soapboxes. I won’t tell you that I’m right and you’re wrong but I’ll leave you with this: Don’t forget that you may not see the sticker in the minibar of life, but it’s still there.
What’s your take? Is there a line between borrowing and stealing?
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( Photo credit)