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Passion, People and Principles

Defending Your Life

post # 311 — February 16, 2007 — a General post

I’m sitting as a juror this week in a (civil) trial, and it made me reflect on an old Albert Brooks movie called “Defending Your Life.”

The main character goes to heaven and has to bring witnesses to make the case that he has lived a good life.

Who would testify for you?

Who would testify against you?

How comfortable / confident would you feel that your “jury” would find in your favor?


Shaula Evans said:

A long, long time ago I read Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov, and the only scene that has stuck with me was the story of a sinner sent to hell, whom an angel offered to pull out using a green onion the man had once given a person in need, which represented the only good deed of his sorry life.

I don’t pretend to begin to understand who’d testify for or against me in a final or critical reckoning, but I suspect if anything saved me, it wouldn’t be any grand gestures but rather the acumulated weight of a number of everyday little green onions.

posted on February 16, 2007

Charles H. Green said:

I was twice called to the jury pool in your county, David. It’s a fascinating exercise in civic duty. Also boring as hell. Both.

I’ll lay you a side bet of a good dinner that you won’t get called; and, if called, that you get peremptorily rejected faster than you can say Tom Peters.

To answer your question—it depends on who’s on the jury! Which is why you, David, will get rejected for most civil cases.

But that’s OK. In the Big Trial, I’ll testify for you, and I won’t be alone.

posted on February 18, 2007

David Kirk said:

I deal with measurement in my work. A big part of that is showing clients and prospective clients that there is more that is measurable than they may have expected, or that the benefit of a little digging into what’s going on is often worth the effort.

Values aren’t ideally suited to this sort of analysis. Where do (personal) values come from? Are there good or bad values? (Jim Collins, in Built to Last, I think, put forward the idea that for a company, it was more the existence of core values than the nature of the values themselves that propelled the companies to sucess).

Values themselves can’t easily be measured. The outcome of those values can sometimes be measured, provided there is sufficient information. Actions are visible, and can be misinterpreted. Non-actions aren’t seen, so most often no motivation is even suspected.

So, presumably we wouldn’t say that good people are only good people if they are seen to be good people. There are also a large number of “good activities” that will automatically be seen by at least someone, if the recipient is a single individual. But what about as a professional providing professional services? Is it in our best interest to make sure that we are known to be good, trusted professionals? Or should that be a hoped-for result of being good, trusted professionals?

As much as I don’t like the idea of trying to show off values in order to get more work, perhaps some small amount of it is helpful in the real world in which we live?

posted on February 19, 2007