In the past few months, we've had a lot of examples or reminders about the lack of integrity and ethics in sports, politics, and life in general - from the lack of new entrants into Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame due to the steroid scandal to Lance Armstrong's admission to doping. These are the "newsworthy" stories that we're subjected to almost without end. What was almost completely overlooked was the December 2nd story about Basque athlete Ivan Fernandez Anaya who was competing in a cross country race in Burlada, Navarre. He was running a distant second behind Abel Mutai, a Kenyan who mistakenly pulled up about 10 meters short of the finish line, believing he had already crossed it. Anaya quickly caught up with him but instead of passing him and taking first place, he stayed behind Mutai and used gestures to guide the Kenyan to the finish line and finish first.
How many of us heard about this unselfish act of integrity? Very few. It has gotten a little play on the internet and Facebook sites, but the major media outlets don't (apparently) have much use for stories about the positive side of human nature when there is so much of the dark side available for examination.
It's no different in other aspects of our lives, including business. In the past several decades, I've had the unfortunate opportunity to observe first hand the lack of ethics and integrity in the corporate world. It's nothing new, of course. I sold my first business to Tyco International about three months before the news broke about the infamous Dennis Kozlowski (now serving time in prison for his actions). I've worked with Board members, company founders, and corporate executives who felt that there was nothing wrong lying to shareholders, to employees, to banks, or others. So long as they didn't get caught, they felt it was just part of the "game" of business. To me, it's like everything else. If you lie or cheat in order to "win", what have you accomplished? What have you really won? Your bank account might be a little bigger, but you have to live with the possibility that you'll be caught and all of that will be lost. You give others power over you by not being truthful because now you are forced to modify what you do, say, think, and how you act to protect the lie.
Let's make guys like Ivan Fernandez Anaya our role models and not the Lance Armstrong's and Dennis Kozlowski's of the world. He deserves it and we would do well to emulate him.