When we know something big is coming, we usually plan for it.  Few people would be comfortable heading into retirement, a new career, or any other significant life transition without some sort of a plan.  When students head off to college for the first time, there are mentoring programs where they are asked how they will respond to common challenges that arise as a part of college life.  The thought is that when a student encounters a difficult situation, they will know how to successfully navigate it because they will already have discussed the issue and determined their path.

Yet, how many of us plan in advance for an ethical challenge?  Often, ethical challenges are highly stressful, urgent situations where the wrong decision can have long lasting repercussions.

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to speak at HelpNet’s Leadership Oasis on being an ethical leader. During the process, one of our objectives was for each attendee to identify his/her core values.  Why would that be important?  Because, if we have already defined our values and a situation arises that challenges those values, we will already know the path that is best for us.  If we aren’t certain where we stand, then we are more likely to be persuaded by the crisis of the day and could allow a situation that, during more thoughtful times, we would find unacceptable.

So what are your core values?  I’d encourage you to take some time to identify those three or four values that are critical to you.  Write them down.  Share them with someone who is a sounding board.  Then, the next time a challenging situation occurs, you will have a reference that is uniquely yours to help guide your decisions and keep you out of hot water.

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