A friend had gone to work for an employer with a reputation for dishonesty. Then he wondered, in the end, why that employer lied, conned, and screwed over him. Story’s not over. He ran into the employer years later and got mixed up with him again.
“I was trying to make him be honest with me. I was insisting that he treat me fairly this time.” We all know the ending. He got screwed over again.
Dancing with the devil is seductive—in work and in love. It’s an enticing challenge; we want to make somebody change, treat us right, and give us what we know we deserve. Not living up to our own values can be seductive too. “This situation is an exception,” we think. “This time, the values I believe in don’t really apply.”
It’s easy to look around at the world and think that the only ones who really make it are the people who lie, cheat, and steal. Or we see something we really want, and we believe we can’t get it honestly, so we set our values aside for a time.
Acknowledging other people’s lack of integrity usually hurts. At least it stings. By the time we see it, we may be in over our head. “I’ll just keep dealing with this person,” we think. “Try and recoup my losses so I don’t lose any more.”
I’m as prone to dancing with the devil as anyone else. We pay a price each time we do.
Challenge: The hardest part about living with values can be simple pride. It’s hard to admit that we got conned. It can be humiliating to admit that we can’t have what we want, or that we’ve not lived up to our values, or that we have a lesson to learn because we made a mistake. Here’s a hint: Learn to take your losses and run.