Nothing works when there are no consequences


A few years ago, a nearby school enacted a drunk driving accident, complete with first responders, police, coroner and med flight. The production was as graphic as anything seen on TV and followed the course of events in real time, from the rescue pictured above to the police notifying parents of their child killed and ending with a rally held in the school auditorium a few days later. The point of the display was to illustrate the true-to-life impact of the choice to drink then drive. It was powerfully emotional from beginning to end. I left hoping that it hit home and hit hard, saving lives in the process.

Yesterday, I heard about a woman that works in a country school district that said she would do anything to get out of the job. It seems, to her, that kids nowadays have no fear and thus no respect for the consequences of their actions. It didn’t matter if kids are sent to the principal’s office for fighting or throwing someone’s books out of the bus window, there is no fear. That nothing is a deterrent to bad behavior has killed this woman’s passion to work in the school.

I can’t help but think that the apparent lawlessness in a back-woods public school is a snapshot of today’s workplace, whether that be in an office or the local Walmart. I see signs of it every day; some subtle, some glaringly obvious. Here’s some of the things that come to mind:
  1. If you are paid to do a job, here’s a novel idea: Do the job. Yes, do what you are paid to do instead of playing games and texting on your cell phone, chatting away, surfing the Internet or disappearing. Oh, and when you do work, how about doing a good job. There's more to working for a living than showing up every day.

  2. If there are a set of rules for all, why not make those rules apply to everyone? If they don’t apply to everyone, throw them out. Here’s why: If one worker ignores those rules, so will everyone else because, by example, there are no consequences. Make one worker an example? That won’t work unless the example is the one actually breaking the rules. (See #1.)

  3. The trickle down theory doesn’t work in economics, and it doesn’t work when it comes to poo rolling downhill either. Fess up and take responsibility for your own actions. You’ll gain a lot more brownie points for taking responsibility than you will ever gain for blaming someone else. You see, sooner or later, you’ll be found out and then there will be no saving your butt.

  4. If you are employed, chances are, your mother doesn’t work there. You have to clean your own room, flush the toilet when you’re done using it and wash your own dishes when you’re done eating.

  5. That I even need to say things like 1 – 4 screams of a total lack of respect – self-respect and respect for others. “Do unto others…” and all that. Novel idea.
I’m sure the list could go on and on and on, but enough is enough. I’m sure we could all theorize that it’s because of the violence on TV, the lack of parenting, the need for immediate gratification or the failure of our schools. Whatever the cause, very few people seem capable of consideration, integrity, honesty, regard or responsibility. Those that do are few and far between.

The point of all this is that, yes, there are consequences. Pay attention to the trend of outsourcing. Jobs are shipped overseas to countries with cultures that emphasize personal integrity, responsibility and productivity. What’s left here at home are service sector jobs – retail, education, government, law enforcement and medicine – and the lack of quality is obvious.

So, are you one of the few – or a slacker? Too many people think that what they do won’t matter in the grand scheme of things, and since so many think that way, the Big Picture, our country, is failing. Do you need the fatal accident to happen right in front of you to break through your denial? Will it take the bully throwing your books out of the bus window to open your eyes?

It’s time to wake up. It’s time to explore the concepts of honesty, integrity and responsibility. There are consequences, fatal consequences, and nothing will work until we all realize that.
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