I am extinct. At least my way of life, morals, ethics, and business methods are extinct. In order to survive I must adapt. I must become what I never was; and act as I never did: or I will be extinct.
My epiphany happened today, actually this afternoon during a meeting with an adversary. I have the tire tracks from the bus to prove it. I had hoped that this person would be an ally but it was not to be. Try as they might, my supporters could not save me or pull me from the path of that bus. In their defense there was nothing they could do except to sacrifice themselves on my behalf. I could not ask and did not expect it.
I was struck by a bolt of lightning; that flash of clarity that Ive never had. I realized at that moment that I was the dinosaur in the room. Who I am didnt matter: what I needed to become in order to survive did.
My situation no longer allows me to cling pragmatically to my values. I am a product of my past physical excesses and spendthrift ways. Either I adapt or go the way of the Dodo. I do not relish the thought of becoming a museum exhibit; not yet anyway.
Modern Man and I include women in this, too, must evolve and this evolution is neither pleasant nor pretty. It is however necessary for us to change or become a museum exhibit. I can see the sign under my glass case: Ethical Man.
Business today is nasty. Its cutthroat. Its mean. Its hard. If I am to survive this change I must become what I have never been, and never wanted to be. Must become just like everyone else. Individualism be damned; drink the Kool-Aid!
It would not do for me to dwell on the past and extol the virtues of business up to the middle of the last century. We are where we are for too many reasons. Everyone acknowledges this yet no one can change what is. It is no longer a matter of right or wrong. It is no longer a matter of proper or improper. We are here and the big arrow points clearly to the path that we all must travel. Stray from that path and the world will bitch slap you back to the new reality. Things have changed and the new business world is what it is. Ruthless!
Have I sold out, made a deal with the devil? Maybe, but survival is better than extinction. It is far better to sell your soul to the devil than to be fodder for the cannons of business. It is better to adapt than to tilt at windmills; to hold dearly to the past ways and be run over by the hungry masses that will do anything to preserve their way of life. Scream at the top of your lungs that you are right, and all you get is a sore throat. Sure Im right. My ethics, morals and values tell me so. That and $3.50 get you Starbucks coffee.
Now I understand how the German people felt as Hitler took power. There was little they could do to prevent the change. By the time the people realized the direction of the dictator, it was too late. They had to adapt or become a line on the extermination list. Is that worth my life? I feel their pain and I understand.
I can see how we have gone from a country of freedom to one of oppressive pessimism. We stand in the path of a governmental steamroller that had no care about the constituents, but has higher regard for those that will provide power and wealth. Big business is like our government: those in charge care only for the return to the investors; The ROSE Return on Shareholder Equity. Workers are chattel; invaluable commodities to be used and discarded. If you adapt to the new business model you may retain your job, if not: extinction.
In every life comes a pivotal time when you face the demon and decide. I now face my own Spanish Inquisition. Do I convert or die in the fire a proud and honorable man? At this point I am too spent to fight the tide.
My initial thought was to lead a duplicitous existence. This will take great energy and excellent concentration at first. I would be Mr. Corporate Citizen during the day and the real me at night. I am already struggling with the pressures of my day time career and my passion for musical performance. Adding this to the soup will increase my stress and require full on concentration not to revert to the old moral and ethical me. Unfortunately, this devil requires an all or nothing contract. If I take the deal there is no returning. I will lose myself to the bond and to business. I will become what I like the least about our society. I will become one of them. The cost, is self.
I have walked the razors edge looking for the compromise between what I firmly believe and what I know I must become to survive. There is no room in business for compromise: someone wins and someone loses. Quaint and antiquated concepts like morality and ethical behavior have no place in this brave new world.
I guess its time to stop whining like a little kid with a skinned knee. Ill sign the contract and belly up to the bar to drink the Corporate Kool-Aid!
Bye, Bye Charlie. Hello Mr. Corporate Citizen!