What’s your price? - HR Future helps people prepare for the Future of Work and is South Africa's leading print, digital and online Human Resources magazine.

What’s your price?

With more and more truth about the corruption and state capture that’s been going on behind the scenes in government, state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and business starting to come out, it’s becoming clear that a lot of people in high places have a price on their heads – a price at which they can be easily bought. Want to buy an SOE executive, a politician, even maybe a President? Seems like you can … if you have the money! There are plenty of them for sale to the highest bidder. Of course, politicians haven’t wanted the general (voting) public to know about this because it wouldn’t suit their agendas – they prefer to be known (in their own eyes) as upstanding, honest, committed, ethical civil servants or good custodians of the significant resources they control.

Well, if truth be told, they have a price on their heads in more ways than one. When you have a price on your head, for which you can be bought to do whatever the person paying you wants, expects or demands you to do, it’s only a matter of time before the price on your head becomes a liability, like those who were “wanted dead or alive” in the Wild West who were known to have a price on their heads. The price on your head then means that others will go after you either to take from you what you have acquired or to ensure that justice will prevail. That will signal the end of your political or business career.

Imagine the stress people with a price on their heads are living with. Here’s the thing … all humans are actually honest beings. No, wait, let me finish …

While all humans are honest beings, many choose to engage in dishonest activities for selfish reasons. They therefore suppress their honesty in the interests of achieving their selfish goals. In order to achieve more money, land, possessions, status, power or anything else they deem desirable, they will choose to be dishonest to get what they want.

What they don’t realise is the price they will in turn pay for their dishonesty. That price is the dissonance that occurs in their beings when their dishonest activities conflict with their honesty, which they have suppressed for selfish interests. Have you ever wondered why people, caught red-handed committing a criminal act blatantly deny that they did what it was they were accused of? That’s because they can’t admit to themselves that they are dishonest. How do you expect them to admit to a total stranger or to them world in general that they are dishonest?

But it’s not only the people in high places who have a price on their heads. There are people living amongst you and me who have sold their honesty. You may, like me, have been the victim of some form of dishonesty, when someone tried to cheat, defraud or rob you of something that was legitimately yours. For example, the last three people who defrauded/cheated me in some way are all regularly standing on platforms in their local communities (I kid you not), thinking that they are very good and honest people. But they had a price on their heads for which they sold their honesty. Sadly, while they think they have done nothing wrong, they will experience the inescapable consequences of the universal law of cause and effect.

I mention this example to challenge your thinking, to get you to ask yourself if you have a price on your head, a price for which you will sell, or have sold, your honesty.

Before you answer indignantly that you have no price, think carefully about your answer. Do you know what our biggest challenge is with regard to our price? We can’t see our own price. We can see what our price is not, but the actual price for which we’re prepared to sell our honesty is actually invisible to us. And that’s why those who have sold themselves can’t see what they’ve done. They think they’re still honest people.

While you and I have no control over the honesty of other people, we can ensure that we never sell our honesty at any price. There’s only one way to do this: operate on the basis that honesty is not the best policy. It’s the ONLY policy. When honesty is your best policy, you tend to start using some of those “not so honest” policies.

Live without a price on your head and be proud of doing so. You will serve as a role model for those you lead and work with.     

Alan Hosking is the publisher of HR Future magazine, www.hrfuture.net, @HRFuturemag, and assists executives to prevent, reverse and delay ageing, and achieve self-mastery.

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