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Are Lies the Price of Success?

Many of us decided to continue our education after high school to expand and prolong their learning and development. And many, MANY lists of the best schools place Harvard at or near the very top.

A recent article in a Philadelphia paper reflected on the recent cheating scandal at Harvard  a telling quote was when a fellow Harvard classmate told the author of the article that Harvard was and is, after all, all about success. Once admitted, students seek the next ‘holy grail’ and if cheating or fabricating resume material can get them where they want to go, then the ends justify the means.

The message seems to be that cutting corners only matters if you’re caught.

But if Harvard students, faculty, and alumni enjoy reflected glory, they also get the sharp end of the stick as well. Ask Penn State students and faculty. Or the students who were no involved in the Regents exam cheating scandal at an elite high school in New York.

And lest you think it’s the pressure of rubbing shoulders with the best and brightest,, there are plenty of cheating scandals to go around at less elite colleges and universities.

If this is what young adults learn, it’s not that big a leap to think they continue the practice in the workplace, where the pressure is still on. There is pressure to keep your job, succeed in your job, make your boss look good, impress your boss with how good YOU look, and get some of what someone else has for yourself.  It can be overwhelming.

It’s been 11 years since Enron hit the news and there are many things to learn from just that one scandal alone. although you might not think so judging from the adventures on Wall Street. It’s ironic that Enron was actually touted as a Harvard Business School case study. We could have learned so much but we didn’t.

Everyone exaggerates a little. We round down when we talk about weight and age and round up when we talk about achievements. There are several studies that indicate that if you live, work, or go to school, in a lying culture; it’s much harder to act ethically. And it’s even harder to blow the whistle on those who actively engage in unethical behavior.

Did your mom ever ask you “If Tommy Smith/Susie Jones jumped off a bridge, would you?”

Your mom was looking out for you and hoping you’d learn how to think for yourself. She didn’t want you to act stupidly.

Long before Enron, Wall Street, Bernie Madoff or any cheating scandal.


This entry was posted on Thursday, September 13th, 2012 at 3:07 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.