At the start of my career in 2010 I wrote a blog post, The Insouciant Life in The Bit Bucket, wherein I wondered if “… I have to abandon everything I care about for the practical reality of earning a paycheck?” At the time, I was yet to land my first full-time job in the field of technology. I was fortunate to have embarked on my career in the company of individuals possessed of high integrity and character.
Now, working that full-time job as a successful technical professional, I can answer my own question. No, I do not have to abandon my principles, ideals, and cherished values to earn a paycheck. “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:26. This principle which dates back to approximately 70 – 100 A.D.
As I have been in our very competitive workforce, this principal has become very clear to me. My relationships with my colleagues and my personal integrity are more important to me than money. There, I’ve said it. I’ve committed modern heresy. I knowingly run counter to our modern culture where the pursuit of money is the all-encompassing god of our time. We worship it, sacrifice for it, and do whatever it takes to have more. You need to do whatever it takes to get money. After all, greed is good and generosity is for suckers. Or is it?
When I began my career I was openly jeered at for my work ethic. I was called a “sucker”. I was told that hard work was for suckers and the key to getting ahead lay in taking advantage of others. However, I believe in the timelessness of ethics more than public opinion. Three years later, I find myself ahead of most of the United States in terms of employment and lifestyle. I do not have anything I did not earn by hard work and integrity.
So am I writing this merely to brag or be self-aggrandizing? Not at all. I’m writing this to assert that contrary to popular opinion, ethics and success are not mutually exclusive and it can be done. The other advantage is that it brings long-lasting satisfaction and true happiness. I have my self-respect because I never compromised my personal ethics or integrity to get where I am. Regardless of the road you take in life there are sacrifices to be made. I chose not to make the sacrifices of our current culture – that of using others to get ahead at the cost of personal relationships.