Right, Wrong and How Rooting for Outcomes Blurs Reality
It’s a slippery slope to talk, write or even think about politics these days.
The holiday season tends to be a time for families to gather to celebrate togetherness and share in gratitude. Yet, in the past year or two, I’ve heard more and more examples of families being broken apart because of differences of opinions in political matters. And as I’ve listened, I’ve realized how grateful I am to work somewhere like Kenway Consulting.
Don’t get me wrong, I hear political debates at the office. And there are significant differences of opinion. However, I am grateful to work somewhere grounded in the philosophy of focusing on means vs. outcomes, i.e. doing what is right is more important than the outcomes that doing what is right cause.
In 1998, during the impeachment hearings of Bill Clinton, some members of the Republican Party said things about the impeachment process and the importance of that process that are completely inconsistent with the things those same members are currently saying. In 2019, during the impeachment hearings of Donald Trump, some members of the Democratic Party have said things about the impeachment process and the importance of that process that are completely inconsistent with the things those same members said in 1998. Why is a “principle” “right” during one hearing, but the same principle does not apply during a different hearing?
The answer is simple. They are rooting for a particular outcome. In 1998, many Republicans wanted a president removed from office. In 2019, many Democrats want a president removed from office. And the outcome they sought/are seeking is more important to them than the means followed to achieve it.
The examples are endless. Supreme Court nominees in a presidential election year. Will they be confirmed or not? Past quotes from our Senate Majority Leader and Senate Minority Leader seem to be in agreement that if the president is from their party, then nominees should be confirmed. But if the president is from the opponent’s party, they should wait until after the election? Hypocrisy? How about it!
The joy of Kenway – and let’s be honest, it’s often a difficulty – is that we avoid rooting for outcomes. We simply do what we believe is right. If that leads to increased revenues as an outcome, great. If it leads to less revenues, that’s just as great. Imagine if our politicians did the same thing? If they confirmed Supreme Court nominees when a president nominates them, regardless of the election year or the party in control, that would be the honorable thing. If they treated impeachment in a consistent manner, regardless of the president’s party, that would be the honorable thing. When you get too focused on the outcome, principles become malleable weapons to be used when convenient, and discarded when not.
Oxford Dictionary defines a principle as, “a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.” Next time you hear a politician say, “it’s a matter of principle,” remember it. Chances are, the principle will be discarded when convenient. At Kenway, we never discard a principle, because as Oxford tell us, it’s our foundation.