2 Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 3 Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.
Dirty secrets die painful deaths. A quick search on the word “scandal” in the business press proves the point. The sad tale is repeated over and over again, week in and week out. This week the list includes SAC for insider trading, BNP Paribas for laundering Iranian wealth, Chinese mining companies for lying about stockpiles, and the continuing saga of GM’s cover-up for the ignition switch defect.
Like all scandals, these dirty secrets sprouted in the darkness common to all ill-begotten schemes. Their end is certain. They will be exposed. Sooner or later, every scandal stumbles into the light of day and unravels, bit by bit, as the truth comes to light.
Truth is the only sustainable strategy. Falsehood inevitably fails. So why then do schemers continue to imagine they can hide dirty secrets? This can only be a false pride, a misplaced hope in the power of mammon, or a risky gamble that one can “take the money and run” before the truth catches up with them. Such scandalous gains are fleeting.
Looking for a surefire test for the ethics of any stratagem? Ask whether it will receive praise or condemnation when shouted from the rooftops. Remember that God sees all. Even if a secret is kept for many years, a day of reckoning will come when the whispers will be shouted and God’s truth will be proclaimed from the roof-tops.
Some secrets deserve to be kept: it is honorable to preserve a trade secret for the sake of a noble venture; and there is honor in protecting the sanctity of intimate relationships. But secrets which deserve no praise are best avoided altogether. They are never a good foundation on which to build a business. They are not only dishonorable, but foolish, because they contain no sustainable truth. The “newspaper headline test” is a good test of ethics: Would you like the newspapers to report your words and plans?
Truth is the ultimate sustainability paradigm—in business and in life.
© Bruce D. Baker, 2014