Monday, July 5, 2010

The right to choose actions, not consequences

The 4th of July in the United States of America is called Independence Day. It marks the day when the leaders of the young country stood up and basically said, "We are tired of being told what we can and cannot do."
People wanted to be able to worship what they wanted: Freedom of Religion
People wanted to be able to speak up when our leaders were doing wrong: Freedom of Speech
People wanted to be treated fairly: All men are created equal.
It's my belief that the basic concept of freedom is having the right to choose. And I also believe that every person on the earth has this right and ability. What we all do not have is the right and ability to select the consequences of our actions.
If you stick your hand in a fire, that is your choice. The consequence is that you will get burned.
If you don't eat or drink, that is your choice. The consequence is that you will get hungry and thirsty.
Too often people confuse the right to choose their actions with a right to choose their consequences. I had an employee once tell me, "I won't be coming in to work today. It is too snowy outside." While in some lines of work and areas of the country that is acceptable, and actually a good idea, when you work at a 24 hour news station in New England, that doesn't really fly. They couldn't understand that they got written up for not showing up for work--though the expectation was made very clear when they were hired. They said they had the right to choose not to come to work--and I agreed. What they didn't have is the right to choose the consequence for not coming to work.
In my professional life, I've often gotten in trouble for speaking my mind on certain subjects--even though I was 100% in the right, and I knew it.
My first job was at a fast food restaurant. When working in the cooking area, it was required for us to wear hats. However, when the managers came back to help, they never wore hats. When working on a cash drawer, we could only be off 50 cents by the end of our shift or we would be written up. However, when we went on break, a manager would take over our drawer. In one of our staff meetings, I brought up these two points--especially about the cash drawer. "If I am held accountable for the money in my drawer, then I should be the only one with access to it." The answer? "Managers are managers because they don't steal and don't make money changing mistakes."
On my last review I worked there, I got a very low rating for having a poor attitude.
I can imagine that if the founding fathers of the United States of America were given a review after they declared their independence by the king of England, their rating would have been similar.

1 comment:

  1. Jason,

    Great article. I wholeheartedly agree. That is a major problem in our country. People want to be free to "do whatever I want", but they don't want to face the consequences of their choices. The want to "have their cake and eat it too".