Should I declare all my income in my taxes? Should I tell my wife her gym friend is hot? Should I tell the cashier she didn’t charge me for the bread? Should I assume refills are free on the self-service soda machines? Should I be courteous to my neighbor, even though he’s on the sexual offenders list and I’m a parent? Should I keep my pirate beard, simply because I don’t like to shave? Should I switch stadium seats, because I know the better ones in front are empty? Should I share a new business opportunity with my partners or do it myself as a consultant and keep all the revenue?
Ahh… life’s little questions. Well I’m here to tell you that I have the answer. Well not so much the answer but a miraculous system that will help you find the answer to all of life’s ethical conundrums.
The Four-Way Test
It’s called the Four-Way Test. This simple four-question system helps guide your ethical compass to find your true north. The Four-Way Test was created by Herbert J. Taylor as a way to help guide the management decisions of an aluminum company that was bound for bankruptcy.
Hebert set policies for the company’s moral standards when it came to doing business. The test was then adopted by Rotary International to guide the things Rotarians think, say or do.
The Four Way Test asks:
1. Is it the truth?
2. Is it fair to all concerned?
3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
Are you experiencing an ethical dilemma? Did your client pay you twice for the same job and you know he won’t find out? Should you keep the money as a settlement for all those extra unpaid hours spent on the last project? What to do?
Say no more. The Four-Way test is here to the rescue.
1. Is it the truth? - Well not really, we received payment already for the work. Unless it’s an understated bonus?
2. Is it fair to all concerned? I think it’s fair to me, since I do work extra, unpaid hours.
3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships? If the client finds out I kept it, probably not and any excuse will sound like theft.
4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned? Ahh, s*%t you’ve got me Four-Way Test. I’ll send the money back and say I know we are good, but there’s no need to pay us double. We’re happy to give you our best.
Insert your ethical enigma here and apply the Four-Way Test and see what you discover. It’s a business ethics cheat sheet. Get it? Cheat sheet? (Ok, not that funny.)
I really did get paid twice
In all seriousness, that case above happened to me a few years ago with a very large client and I sent the check back. It hurt, because we all need the money, but to this day they are one of my main clients. I’ll never know whether or not the client noticed my honest action, but I’d like to think they did and I can rest at night knowing it was the right thing to do.
The Four-Way Test provides a formula to guide the moral strength of decisions you make in business and in your personal life.
See the test in action
If you’d like to see the test in action, email me. I’ll invite you to lunch any Thursday at the Hard Rock Café in Bayside, were we, the Miami Rotarians, put it to good use. Want to get in the loop with the Rotary Club of Miami? Text ROTARYMIA to 65047 and get our event invites on your phone.
Want to know my answer to all the first 8 questions of the article? Especially the one about my wife’s hot gym friend? Text CONUNDRUM to 65047.