Latest posts by Aninda Baruah (see all)
Yesterday, when I saw Australian cricket’s captain Steven Smith and vice-captain David Warner breaking down while addressing to the media for their ball-tampering scandal, it actually moved me. I felt bad for them because, barring Warner’s hot temperament, they are otherwise good, law-abiding and tremendously hard-working guys who, in their bid to win a match, gave in to temptation.
That’s why it’s a little scary for me (the bigger scare is yet to come).
A case in point is Rahul Dravid.
Dravid, my personal favourite, is known in the cricketing world for his staunch integrity. Even he was fined for alleged ball tampering many years ago.
This means that people of generally good integrity and character, like us, can also fall into such traps without even realizing it. It can hit any of us, despite us usually keeping ourselves on the right side of laws and rules.
It does not make us an out and out bad person as such, but as humans, we are complacent by nature and at certain crossroads of our lives we may give in to certain temptations almost unknowingly. And one such act could prove to be a massively costly one.
Losing a job or, in this case, the one-year ban that has been meted out to these three players is not the real punishment. There is a costlier price that these guys are already paying.
And it’s not performance reputation as a player or a worker. I have seen so many people who fared poorly in their work and later transformed into these super performers. Performance can be improved. Reputation as a worker can be turned around.
It’s character reputation that is the deadly beast. It completely shakes people’s trust in us. Once it’s gone, it’s difficult to bring it back. People would think multiple times before doing any business with us. They would rather strike a deal with a good performer whose integrity is solid rather than a great performer whose integrity has come under the scanner. Allies would distance themselves from us. It has already happened to these players. And I am not even talking about the social stigma that can get attached to us for our lives. It can take years to rebuild reputation and trust.
This is what scares the hell out of me.
Loss of reputation is one helluva costly price that we don’t want to pay in our lives.
So, how do we stop ourselves from falling into this trap?
One way to stop ourselves from falling into this trap is to always ask ourselves this question.
What is the value that we are compromising? What is it that we may lose due to this act? If the answer is REPUTATION, then you know which way to turn.
But sometimes we can forget this value altogether. Therefore, there is another question that we should ask ourselves.
What is it that can make us forget this value?
In my opinion, there are two things that can blind us and should be watched out for.
1. Desire for success at any cost
2. Success getting into our head
1.) Desire for success can blind us
People who know me consider me to be a man of strong integrity who would never cheat anyone or do anything shameful (honestly, I am feeling weird typing in these self-praising words; I never do that normally; forgive me for the sake of this article :)).
But there have been times when I have also given in to the desire for success and have done things which I am not quite proud of. For example, I had written an article long time back on cultural differences and to attract audience’s attention, I named it “Why I love the 69 position?” (the number 69 had a cultural significance). I realized that it was not an apt title and changed it (I also got feedback from some readers), but the fact would remain that I tried to create a scandalous title to attract people’s attention.
A more famous example could be Uber’s Travis Kalanick. Travis’s win-at-any-cost attitude completely made him blind to the law, sexual allegations and well-being of his taxi drivers. His intention was not to cheat. His intention was to win by any means. And it made him blind.
2.) When success gets into one’s head, humility gets replaced by arrogance and foolishness
I have often noticed in workplaces that when people grow up the corporate ladder, gain power, have connections to the right people and have become the apple’s eye of their company or industry, there is a chance that they may get overly confident, may let their guards down and act in ways that may not be ethical and professional.
Unknowingly, an “invincibility” syndrome can hit. Humility can go for a toss. And things can start getting taken for granted.
This can push the person to cross the limits and bring upon themselves the worst of consequences. That’s over-confidence leading to foolishness.
Look at what happened to Rajat Gupta who was sent behind bars for insider trading. He was the CEO of McKinsey and Company for almost a decade, a reputable global businessman, board member of numerous Fortune 500s, chairman of a top B-school and an advisor to Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Sadly, people may never look at him with the same eyes again.
With 30 plus cutting-edge cameras and 80 staffs looking over, I still wonder why Warner, Bancroft, and Smith even thought that they could use a sandpaper to tamper the ball and could get away with it. Their desire to win at any cost blinded them and their success led to arrogance which finally led to their foolish act.
They are top-notch players and international celebrities; so they will get a second chance. But we may not be as lucky as them.
So, guard your integrity and reputation as a sacred talisman. Losing them is far more expensive than losing the game.