Kim's Thoughts: Right vs. Wrong

Our firm takes an unusual approach to practicing law. We truly care about people. So, what we talk about is rarely, if ever, strictly related to legal issues. The current pandemic has provided some perspective about things that really matter. This post may not seem relevant to legal issues. However, I believe the message has relevance when it comes to just about anything.


Buck Griffin was my mentor for many years at my former law firm. He was a tremendous lawyer–and a magnificent man. His manner of working and living was unreservedly principled. He would regularly impart to me nuggets of wisdom that have guided how I go about things in my own life. Mr. Griffin was a true “people person.” And since I feel my life’s purpose is to help people, those lessons he taught are firmly entrenched in my philosophy of how everyone should be treated.


Mr. Griffin once told me something I’ll never forget: “Always do the right thing, regardless of the consequences.” Perhaps such advice sounds simple, but coming from the epitome of a man fueled by integrity, those words left an indelible imprint on me.


It’s both interesting and disheartening to observe how many people apparently could use a little bit of Mr. Griffin’s advice but have missed out on it. Nowadays, getting ahead in the world often overshadows doing the right thing in the same world that includes other people.

In Dov Seidman’s book How: Why HOW We Do Anything Means Everything, he describes what I like to call the integrity disparity:


Relationships propelled by situational values involve calculations about what’s available here and now. They are about exploiting short-term opportunities rather than consistently living by principles that create long-term success. They stress what we can and cannot do…. Sustainable values, by contrast, are all about what we should and should not do in all situations... Sustainable values are those that connect us deeply as humans. They include integrity, honesty, truth, humility, and hope.


Regardless of one’s profession, the values espoused in the delivery of a particular service outweigh the service being delivered itself. The world abounds with people who “sell” by having perfected a phony persona–one that instills confidence in others to whom they are underhandedly trying to sell.


So, the question is “How do I know the difference between an honest person and a snake?”


At one point, I thought I could spot one from the other, but my knack for doing so and my confidence in being able to trust people have recently begun to wane. I have said that I am a professional skeptic, which comes from my training and experience. And I hope to not have a negative attitude about others’ integrity.


However, my recent experiences have left me wondering whether my optimism regarding my trustworthiness of other people is awfully naïve.


In the end, we must do the right thing with everyone – legally, ethically, and morally. That’s my hope for us all.


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