I'll be honest, this is a hot button topic for me. Professional ethics (aka business ethics) could be thought of as the rules of conduct regarding a particular profession, with respect for right and wrong for your choices and motives. Seems simple, right? It should be. In fact, most of us were introduced to a rudimentary form of ethics at a very young age. And no, young age isn't 21 years old. I'm talking 3 or 4. Say please and thank you. Don't steal the toy from your brother then beat him on the head with it--that sort of thing.
In the past month, I've experienced two blatant forms of unethical practices. Most of you know I'm a writer and a yoga teacher--I've been both for 8 and 6 years, respectively. In that time, I've encountered many other writers and fitness teachers. I've seen the best and worst each industry has to offer, and will experience significantly more before I'm done, I'm sure. And I'm left with the same question each time--why in the world would an adult ever choose to act that way?
I have a few theories:
1) Jealousy. The green-eyed monster. Have you ever encountered someone smarter, more talented, more wealthy (you fill in the blank here) compared to you? Some people are unable to handle this feeling of inadequacy (their perception at least) and compensate by undermining the source of their jealousy. I have a hard time understanding this one because, if you're not talented enough at it, why don't you discover what you are talented at? We can't all be perfect at everything. And really, why would we want to be? Part of the joy in life is discovering your path, and that includes your hidden talent(s). Jealousy shouldn't be one of them.
2) Ignorance. Some people blunder and bumble their way through life with no regard for their associates. It's not always an intentional thing (although some might argue they intentionally choose to remain ignorant). But when you step on some one's toes, and you're lucky enough to have someone point it out to you, please make amends. It shows a distinct lack of regard if you plow forward, uncaring of the chaos in your wake. And then the ignorance excuse is no longer valid. Choose to do the right thing, always. (That's a great mantra to adopt at any point in your life)
3) The desire to get ahead. I'm sure we all know someone who would sell their own mother to get ahead. Hopefully these people are few and far between in your life. I'd like to say that, with maturity, the need to mow down the competition wanes. Sometimes that's true, but not always. I don't understand these particular people. But for their sakes, I hope they are able to move past it without burning too many bridges.
There are, of course, many more reasons for not choosing to do the right thing. Dishonesty, greed, stupidity, and the list goes on. But I believe educating yourself on the ethical do's and don'ts of your industry is the first step toward choosing to do the right thing, always. Believe me, I'm not saying it's always easy or crystal clear. There's rarely a massive neon sign pointing you in the right direction. Ask a trusted colleague. Ask your smartest friend (I'm lucky to have a few!). Meditate or pray on it. There are a number of ways to go about it and come off looking smart, professional and worthy of respect.
I wish you the best of luck at not only finding your talents, but choosing to do the right thing, always.