A Conversation About Ethics

Recently, I read a press release by Ben Fowler, CEO of Sylvan Learning Centers, which got me thinking about Ethics, which is not a sexy topic. We’d much rather focus on our business, friendships, families, lovers, possessions, etc.

But ethics pertains to our conduct- our thoughts, speech and actions; and stands on the platform that everything we think, say and do is a direct result of our mental states (our mind).  

According to 2500 year old teachings by Buddha, we can not only recognize what goes on in the mind, we can learn to observe our thoughts, sensations and emotions dispassionately, so we walk through life with greater ease, no matter what is being said or done around us. The irony of maintaining our conduct is that we get to take one hundred percent responsibility for it.  

So what is the point of living an ethical life? 

•    By becoming mindful of our conduct, we observe the harm we do to others and ourselves by what and how we think.

•    Our awareness is the incentive we need to change.

•    As we begin changing, re-framing our thoughts, speech and actions to reflect the kind of world we choose to inhabit, we’re happier. 

•    We stop blaming others and life for how we think, as we have proven to ourselves that by changing our view, we change our world. 

•    Our subjective world is the only view we can know.

You cannot change what you don’t know. If you’re showing one face to your clients (others) and wearing another one that you listen to but don’t present, you’re not following ethical conduct. 

Ethics and Integrity go hand in hand. Integrity, with its origin in Greek, means Oneness. I view integrity as oneness with self and others. Ethics is the practice I utilize to observe and correct my conduct so that I maintain integrity with my view. 

Remember, I said Ethics is not sexy, but the inclusion of a daily mindfulness practice where you learn to observe and correct your conduct is worth doing. 

Why? The harm you create by what you think will only come back to bite you on the ass. Don’t take my word on this. Check it out for yourself.  

I’m including a portion of Ben Fowler’s recent press release about his new Coaching programs because I noticed how quickly I succumbed to anxiety and anger, two destructive emotions, as I read his claims about other coaching organizations. All kinds of questions arose, from judging the ethics of ICF, to reviewing my own desire to renew my credentials, etc.  

For a few minutes I was in a tizzy till I corrected myself, reframing my thoughts to return to a peaceful disposition, watching my whole made-up scenario evaporate. 

I’m hoping my coaching colleagues realize we have the opportunity to practice ethical behavior no matter where we stand or which coaching organization we lead or join. 

Feel free to comment on this posting, as I am not criticizing Mr. Fowler’s statements, but rather using them to point to the power our conduct has to shape us. 

If we don’t hold our ethical conduct with the intention to do no harm, lapses occur. A mindfulness practice allows us to return to center and spaciousness. Let’s not undermine the value of peaceful co-existence, even when we strike out on our own. 
“Most of us have standards for both ethical behavior and professional skills, which we fiercely adhere to as a way of protecting the quality and integrity of our programs. Some of these accrediting bodies require hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars in tuition and fees for their students to receive their full coaching credentials. Others are looked upon as a bit self-serving by requiring their students to pay ongoing dues to keep their credentials in force. Some even demand that students hire their designated member coaches as mentors and pay them hundreds of dollars as a requirement to earn their credential or to keep it in effect. One of these organizations devotes lots of time, and spends huge amounts of money, to scare potential students into believing that their accreditation is the only real accreditation.” Ben Fowler, Founder of Sylvan Learning Center & Life Coach Accreditation (CPC).

Posted on February 7, 2014 .