Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Price of Bystander Behavior: What We Can Learn from Penn State

No matter how you feel about the current allegations of perjury and misconduct by leadership in Happy Valley, one thing is clear:

You cannot afford to be a bystander, ever.  Not today, not tomorrow, not ever.

We don't care if you're a freshman member of a fraternal organization or one of the winningest coaches of all time.  By joining a fraternal organization, you've made an unspoken pact to uphold its values 24/7.  And, there is a hefty price tag attached when you choose not to. 

Look at wide receiver coach Mike McQueary. Then a graduate assistant, he testified under oath that he saw an illegal and immoral act take place in the showers of the football building, yet the details of whether or not he did anything to stop it are unclear.  McQueary had an opportunity to put his #valuesinaction, and now, because his own words indicate he did nothing beyond telling his father and his professional superior, the quality of his character and validity of his career are called to question.

Based on what we know so far, even if Coach Joe Paterno may have done the right thing legally - it appears he didn't do the right thing morally.  When you choose to do act in a tough situation, you have to be sure you've done more than just enough, you must ensure you've done all you can with concern to both legal and values-based consequences.

By the way, Paterno is a member of a fraternity - so he is doubly obligated to act and follow-up, through both his fraternal oath and professional commitment.

Every time you avoid or lie about a situation in which your values have been compromised, plan on getting more than you bargained for.  If you're not particularly savvy with calculations, let us help you do the math.

Avoid the Situation
$ Guilt
$ Credibility
$ Self Respect
$ Integrity
$ Lies to cover your inaction (See below)
Lie about the Situation
$ Multiply the above by four
$ Respect/trust of others
$ Value of your hard work and education to get where you are
$ Ability to continue in your chosen profession or path
$ Fear of being found out
Do the minimum required (legally or morally)
$ Others question your values commitment and ethics
$ Being remembered by this choice, rather than your accomplishments
$ Trust from those who formerly believed in you

If you're not acting to stop behavior that doesn't align with your values, or you are currently avoiding or covering something up because you're scared, ask yourself:

Is it worth it?

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