Mark Twain once said, “It is never wrong to do the right thing.”
While living in Brazil, I went to the Bank ATM one morning to withdraw some cash for the week. I requested 100 Brazilian Reias and the machine started spitting out the bills. When it stopped I took the cash and found six 20 Real bills instead of five. I checked my balance and only 100 Reais was removed from my account. I was certain I had received 20 Reais more than was withdrawn from my account
I was in a hurry but I had been given something that didn’t belong to me. I pushed the call button on the ATM and an attendant responded. I explained what had happened and she told me that the machine doesn’t make mistakes. I told her that it did and I asked how I should return the money. She repeated that the machine didn’t make mistakes. Despite trying to return the money that didn’t belong to me, she wouldn’t allow me to return it. While I benefitted that day from an ATM error, I am more grateful that I tried to do the right thing.
In Jon M Huntsman’s book “Winners Never Cheat” he told a story of a handshake deal he had entered into. Before the paper contract was written up the market had changed and the value of the company Jon was selling went up substantially. Jon would give up a sizeable amount of money if the handshake deal was honored. The other party offered to split the difference of the increase in value when drafting the agreement. Jon said that his handshake signified his agreement and that is what the lawyers should draft. He gave up $200 million to keep his word. He gave up $200 million to do the right thing.
We have the opportunity every day in big and small things to do the right thing.
This blog allows you to experience the raw, gut wrenching drama of human conflict through accounting in each of its three stages: preparing to do battle, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.