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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Cost of Honesty

I remember, not so fondly, the first time that I got in trouble for doing what I thought was right. I was eight, and at figure skating practice. Growing up in Banff, is surreal. The town is small; and there are only ever  50 kids per grade. Whenever a new kid moved to town, it was a big deal. In grade 3; a new girl moved to town who was an incredible figure skater. Michelle, the new girl had all the cutest skating outfits, warm-up sweaters, and the attention of the coaches. I thought she was so cool.

Some of the other girls grew dangerously envious of Michelle. One day at practice Christa Morrison was mocking Michelle to me. Christa made a stink about Michelle's cute sweater. A few minutes later Christa come back laughing like a maniac. She had gone into Michelle's stuff, and flushed Michelle's nice wrap sweater down the toilet. I was horrified. I immediately ran to the bathroom to try and save Michelle's sweater. I tried to dry out the sweater-I tried to make it right. I told the adults, I told Michelle, I told Christa. Yet somehow in my attempt to be honest and helpful I was served the blame.

Bloomberg Businessweek magazine featured an article on Dan Zwirn that reminded me of the lessons, and the  hight costs that can result of doing the right thing. Dan Zwirn was a financial wizard who by the age of 33 had amounted a small personal fortune of $700 million, and was managing a multi-billion dollar hedge fund. In the financial craze of the mid 2000s before the crash Zwirn's firm had been making purchases and expanding its market presence through the use and fee's of investor dollars. In 2005, when Zwirm began to problem spot some of the internal clogged gears he went directly to the SEC to self report the problems at his firm.

When Zwirn turned him self into the SEC, he was pegged as a criminal pleading guilty. Zwirm became a subject of investigation, that would precede for the next 7 years. Zwirm lost his fortune, his toys, and his hedge fund; but what Zwirm did not loose is his sense of self. Zwirm chose to report "creative" book keeping. He was reprimanded. He was fined. Yet at the end of the day Zwirm, can look himself in the eye and know he did he atoned for his mistakes in management.

Sometimes, doing the right thing is expensive. There may be trouble, and there may get blamed for a crime you didn't commit. I'm not angry for being cast the shame of ruining Michelle's sweater. Instead, I am proud of my 8-year-old self. I am proud of her because she tried to act in accordance to her morals. She did what she thought was right. At the end of the day, one has to be proud of oneself.  I don't care what other people say, and/or think about me. I care about how I see myself. I would rather like myself for living true to who I am, then to be so afraid of "hypothetical" consequences. On the windy trail of life it is easy to become distracted by shortcuts and lured by false promises. In the mist of hype a very real fall to earth will leave some bruises. The bruises will fade, and the fall will be remembered as a saving grace.