Moral Compass, Truth, and Selective Perception

By: Curtis R. Sprouse

October 2016

As Americans, we have only a few weeks to contemplate our choices for many public offices. We will make decisions on the local, state, and national level. Over the last year, we have been exposed to numerous sources of information that are meant to shape and influence our decisions. As I contemplate the information and choices before me, I can’t help to think about how others will make these decisions.

On a daily basis, I deal with executives who seek to be better people and stronger leaders. My team utilizes validated instruments (assessments), data, and a lot of time helping these individuals understand the concepts of moral compass, truth, and selective perception, and where they currently stand relative to these important concepts. I believe these principles should guide one’s decisions in all aspects of life, but it is often difficult to know what the reality of the situation is, what the truth is, and in some cases— what is morally the best decision.

Our current political environment is a perfect example, as the information presented to us by the media clouds reality manipulates truth and challenges our ability to make good moral decisions. We live in a time that one would think and hope would allow us to learn more from history. The rise and fall of many societies has occurred as a result of people choosing to manipulate truth in order to present a situation that is not based in reality. The situations presented to us by politicians, news sources, and various constituencies are crafted to influence a decision.

When I examine the advertisements, listen to the debates, and watch the numerous news reports on the candidates, I can’t help to think about the moral compass, truth, and selective perception that went into the crafting of these various messages and reports. I tend to think in terms of the behaviors we measure as I analyze each piece of information being presented to me.

Let’s start with moral compass. In my world, social skills and goodwill are the key behaviors that define—in large—part one’s moral compass. Do the individuals developing the material and the information presented to us possess the balance of these two behavioral traits that would lead them to develop advertisements and reports with integrity and honesty?

Do these people develop connections with others leveraging social skills in an optimal fashion? Do these people show goodwill, and genuine caring and compassion for others at the appropriate level?What does it mean to balance social skills and goodwill? Let’s take an example I like to use. When we meet someone and find something that we have in common, that makes them and us happy, something that we engage in with focus and passion, something that creates meaning in our lives as we make a connection.

An example of this would be people discussing their children. When I meet someone and tell them that I have children, there are many things we do not need to explain to each other. Unconditional love, worry, joy of accomplishment, and fear for one’s safety and well-being are all concepts that take on a new meaning in the context of having and raising children. As parents, we do not need to explain these themes and ideas to others with children, as we live them on a daily basis. As parents, these concepts and experiences tend to influence and guide our decisions.

This leads me to ask a few simple questions. Do people who manipulate data, massage information, and/or take short cuts truly believe their approach will work in the end? What can each of us do to help people find truth based in reality? What can we do to help others exercise good moral judgement?

What we as a society are finding is that many people have chosen to ignore these behaviors (Social skills and goodwill) as they craft and deliver their stories. They lose sight of those things that they hold near and dear to themselves. More importantly, they fail to recognize what is important to others. They fail to connect to others and fail to demonstrate true care and compassion for others.

When this happens, they lose sight of the truth and manipulate reality through rationalizations. As the Roman Empire found and our founding father predicted, the thirst for power and personal greed has and will destroy societies. Unfortunately, I have seen many talented people destroy teams and companies on a much smaller scale.

As we go to the polls in the next few weeks, I ask you to reflect on these concepts. I challenge each and every one of us to do our best to seek reality, find truth, and use your moral compass to make the best decision you can.The reality is that we have extreme economic, environmental, social, and cultural challenges as we face this next election. The defining factors in the fall of a society are “the collapse of economic, environmental, social and cultural norms.” What can we do as voters and elected officials to right the wrongs, to truly strengthen our economy, to improve our environment, to strengthen our society and to connect regardless of cultural differences?

We as individuals must constantly strive to find the truth based in reality and make a better future for our children. Good luck and god bless as you strive to exercise your moral code based in reality and truth.

Note:*Scores, profiles, or assessments referenced in this article refer to characteristics defined in the EurekaConnect Behavioral Dynamics program

About the author: Curtis R. Sprouse is the President and CEO of EurekaConnect, LLC. Curtis has spent more than 25 years building companies and consulting for hundreds of the fortune 500 companies.

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