Monday, July 30, 2007

Lessons from Michael Vick

Whether you are a football fan or not, you have certainly heard the ugly details of the charges brought against Atlanta Falcons Quarterback, Michael Vick. The case has dominated headlines for several weeks and sparked nationwide anger against Vick.

Vick and co-defendants allegedly operated an illegal dog fighing ring and are been charged with various charges including federal conspiracy. The illegal activity occurred on a property owned by Vick but lived in by his cousin (who has been charged and pleaded guility). According to Vick he was unaware of the activity and rarely visited the property. In spite of his profession of "ignorance" he has lost several endorsement deals and is temporarily suspended from Falcons Training Camp. More importantly he faces five years in jail if found guilty.

I am not sure what the final outcome will be for Vick but the case is a cautionary tale for everyone. Lately, it seems that we could fill a book with tales of "celebrites gone wild," but at the heart of many of the outrageous headlines is the basic concept of choices.

Every choice we make has a consequence. Vick chose to entrust his home and reputation to his cousin. If in fact Vick did not know what was going on in a home he owned, that too was a choice...and it was a very wrong choice.

We learn from Vick that ignorance is not bliss but it is a choice that can carry serious consequences. As business owners we too make choices. While we cannot avoid mistakes or failure (in fact both are key elements in our growth) we can make better choices. If your choices are driven by knowledge and active decision making and you fail that's okay. You made a choice and it did not work out but you have an opportunity to learn from the stumble and move forward. However, if you were not aware of what was going on in your company or chose to associate your business with questionable relationships and as a result you fail...well, you have to take responsibility for that and hopefully you can recover.

Successful people guard their inner circle. Not everyone is allowed in to that precious space, related or not. The successful understand that your associations are a choice and can reap negative or positive consequences. They are not willing to damage their earnings or reputation by poor choices and neither should you.

Today take stock of your own moral compass and guiding values. Are your choices aligned with those values? Next, take stock of the people in your inner circle. Are those relationships aligned with your values and vision? Finally, as you seek to erect that fortress around your vision and reputation, where are your blind spots? While it is not necessary to micro manage every area of your life, it is up to you to know what's going on and understand the choices that others are making which will directly impact you.

As an animal lover I am horrifed by the Vick case. But as a human being I am heartbroken for Michael Vick. It is not easy to watch another person's life fall apart and in doing so it is impossible not to shine the light back on myself and think there but for the grace of God....

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