I love to get feedback from readers of my books. I especially like to get push-back or hear views from a different angle than I’d intended when I first wrote the section under discussion. A reader of The Leader’s Digest took issue with me including the following Elbert Hubbard quote:


“The world bestows its big prizes both in money and honors for but one thing. And that is initiative. And what is initiative? I’ll tell you: it is doing the right thing without being told.”


He went on to write, “in light of the recent financial fiascos on Wall Street and the state of the American automakers, I think this is totally incorrect. Just take a look at the compensation packages of the people who have run these companies into the ground and destroyed the lives of many who worked hard to build them up and who’s hard work pays the exorbitant wages the CEO’s and directors make! Were they doing the right thing?”


I absolutely share his frustration and incredulity with what’s been happening on Wall Street and many large corporations. There has been a complete breakdown of oversight and governance by regulators, boards, and executives.


His comments on the Hubbard quote brings us into the high charged debating ring of values. Many of the leadership principles I wrote about in The Leader’s Digest can be used for good or bad or to grow broad value and enrich everyone, or greedily for personal gain. Like many natural laws of the universe, Timeless Leadership Principles like imagery/visioning, mobilizing/energizing, coaching, and navigating change by seizing initiative and refusing to submit to “fate” or the wishes of others, kick-in regardless of the overarching morality or goals to which they are applied. It boils down to personal interpretation of what the user of the Principle considers to be “the right thing.”


I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.