Since time immemorial, money has been an indispensable commodity that kings and criminals have killed for, charities and churches have asked for, and politicians and police have accepted in exchange for favours and worse.
Many have been taught that money is the root of all evil. That, however, is a misquote because money is not the root of all evil. The correct quote is that “the love of money is the root of all evil”. The truth of this statement is borne out by the daily murders and robberies that take place in just about every country in the world as men and women seek to get more money for themselves because they love it so much.
The truth of the matter is that there is nothing wrong, bad or inherently evil about money. Money is completely amoral but takes on the morality of the person in whose hands it is found. In the hands of good people, money is good when it is used to save lives and feed starving people. In the hands of criminals, it is bad when it is used to buy arms and ammunition to kill and rob others to illegally take from them what they have worked hard to legitimately acquire.
Many a public servant, politician or policeman has fallen prey to the love of money when they have chosen to permit, authorise or overlook unacceptable things in exchange for money. The media continually runs stories of such cases causing the public to shake its collective head in frustration and anger as story after story emerges of those who have sold their souls.
People are attracted to money for many reasons, sometimes in the mistaken belief that money will bring them happiness. Sadly, too late, they find that money provides neither lasting happiness nor fulfilment. It may provide power, prestige, comfort and convenience, but not happiness. I was once speaking to a Director of a multinational company who wanted to refer a friend of his to me for an age management intervention. His words were, “He’s so wealthy that not even his grandchildren have to work, but he’s as miserable as hell.” So much for his money buying him happiness …
One of the reasons that people crave money is that it gives its owner power – to do whatever they choose, to buy freedom, loyalty and a range of other desirables.
But what few people realise is that money has another power – to reveal who you really are. What people do for and with money will reveal much about who and what they are as human beings.
As I’ve journeyed through life, I have come to learn that money does not corrupt people – it merely reveals their character.
May I ask you … What does money say about you and your character? What are you prepared to do and/or not do for money? How much would it take for you to turn a blind eye to an illegal practice, allow an improper procurement to take place or grant an inappropriate tender? What is the price of your silence or your soul?
This is not about legitimate activities that earn you money, such as gainful employment or entrepreneurial and business activities that generate revenue. These are good, welcome and desirable activities that help build better companies, communities and countries. I’m talking about shady deals, unfair practices or illegal activities that are intended to accumulate illicit wealth for greedy, unethical people.
When otherwise good people fall prey to greed, they lose their ability to think rationally and do things they later regret, but it’s then too late. Losing your integrity is like getting a life sentence. Once you lose your integrity, it’s gone – for the rest of your life. It’s likely you will never be trusted again.
Think about the people who have cheated you or tried to cheat you over the years. You will NEVER trust them again. The same will apply to you. I urge you to consider your integrity to be above any monetary price. When faced with a financial decision that you feel is dubious, don’t allow any form of pressure – from friends, colleagues, bosses, family, circumstances or emotions to influence you in any way. It’s just not worth it. Your integrity is priceless. Protect it and your good name accordingly!
Alan Hosking is the Publisher of HR Future magazine, www.hrfuture.net and @HRFuturemag. He is an internationally recognised authority on leadership competencies for the future and teaches experienced and younger business leaders how to lead with empathy, compassion, integrity, purpose and agility. He has been an Age Management Coach for two decades and is the author of parenting best seller What nobody Tells a New Father.