I recently found myself in an ethical quagmire. Here’s the scene. Myself and my colleague were crafting an email response regarding the services we provide. We had a solid draft, but we needed a closing statement. We were deciding between something more passive (i.e. We’re happy to talk further) and something more active (i.e. Let’s set up time to talk).
My gut said to go with passive even though I knew the best choice for successful business development/sales was the active one. The problem was I didn’t feel comfortable at all with the active choice. It made me feel dirty and pushy.
Eventually we made a mutual decision, but I continued to reflect on the moment for awhile thereafter. I questioned if I favored the passive choice because of some psychological/emotional lack of self confidence, or if more preference could be attributed to a more moral reason.
At this point in my reflection, my mind jumped to a quote a dear friend recently shared with me. He felt, and I agreed, it was an accurate assessment of my journey thus far.
Did I favor the passive choice because its tone was one I wanted to see more of in the world? Was my preference a declaration that I would no longer sell or be sold to? Was I playing the part of the revolutionary bucking the system?
Yes, I was playing the part. But you see, that’s just it. I was playing a part.
My defiance was as genuine as my proposed enemy. Seeing this, I dug deeper. I sat with the discomfort the idea of my choice being flawed presented me, instead of riding off into the sunset of false belief.
After our short dialogue, I watched discomfort withdraw. In its place stood the truth. I knew it was the truth because I was afraid to face it. Further, after looking it in the eye for a few moments my fear resided, and confidence arose to take its place.
I saw, and not for the first time, my inclination towards passivity was a nod towards a desire to be passive in my own life. If I’m passive, I give the responsibility of my life to outside forces. This is a survival mechanism that ensures I won’t have to take responsibility for my failings. Unfortunately, it also guarantees I also won’t be able to take responsibility for and internalize my successes.
This passive practice only propagates the stagnate and unfulfilled life I set off on my journey to vanquish.
I refuse to tell you that after today I’ll only be leaning towards and selecting the active road. I’d love to believe this to be true, but I know better by now.
What I will tell you is I’m mighty proud I took a moment to sit with my discomfort and see the source of it for what it was. After-all, awareness is the first step towards recovery, and every journey starts with the first step.