This is an area of confusion for many people—especially when they see supposedly successful individuals going to jail. Well, as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t matter how much success you amass. Going to jail would be an immediate dis-qualifier. Even if a criminal does not get caught, he or she is still criminal—and therefore incapable of real success. I know people who would never tell a lie or steal a penny who I don’t consider ethical—because they also don’t bother to fulfill their commitments as providers of security and role models for their families and friends. If you don’t go to work every day—and do everything within your power to succeed—then you are stealing from your family, future, and the company for which you work. You have made agreements—either implied or spoken—with your spouse, family, colleagues, managers, and clients. The more success you create, the better you are able to take care of those agreements. To me, being ethical doesn’t just mean playing by society’s agreed-upon rules. I also believe that being ethical requires people to do what they have told others they would do—and doing so until they get the desired results. Making an effort without a result is not ethical because it is a form of lying to yourself and failing to fulfill your obligations and commitments. Trying, wishing, praying, hoping, and wanting aren’t going to get you there. In my mind, ethical people achieve the results they desire and create so much success for themselves, their family, and their company that they can survive any storm and succeed regardless of any difficulty.
One of the personal experiences of which I am most proud was my ability to weather two years in a severely challenging economic environment while I was confronting other, even more serious challenges in my life—and was still able to expand my company and provide for my family. Anything short of providing long-term success means putting everyone in your life—including yourself—at risk. I am not talking about “cash register” ethics here but rather the bigger concept of living up to your abilities and potential as well as your unspoken or explicit commitments. Merely agreeing to be a father, husband, entrepreneur, or business owner—or whatever role you play—brings with it implied commitments and agreements. I consider it unethical not to fully utilize the gifts, talents, and mind with which I have been blessed. Only you can decide what is ethical to you. However, I would suggest that any disparity between what you know you can do and what you are achieving is an ethical issue. The most successful among us are driven by ethical obligation and motivation to do something significant that aligns with their potential.
Grant Cardone. “The 10X Rule.”