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How Our Standards Erode

Integrity, whether at work or at home, is not the sort of thing you work on every now and then. You don't set aside one day a month to work on your integrity much like you might pay your bills. It's something we have to address almost 24/7 because of the insidious nature of dishonesty, which always presents us with small, seemingly insignificant openings. Few people actually decide to outright lie or cheat; rather, they find themselves taking shortcuts out of convenience. I read somewhere that according to a company that conducted 3.8 million background checks on people applying for jobs, more than half lied on their resumes. These aren't horrible people or chronic liars but ordinary citizens like you and me who think those little white lies are okay and will never be caught anyway. Unfortunately, even if they are never caught, they erode our standards and make it easier to make duplicity the norm.

In 1912, Leon Leonwood Bean started a mail order business in Greenwood, Maine, by selling a hunting boot with a money-back guarantee. However, defects in the design led to 90 percent of them being returned. Making good on the guarantee could ruin his fledgling business, but Leon kept his word, corrected the design, and continued selling the boots. L.L. Bean is now one of the largest mail-order companies in the United States, in large part because it has continued the tradition of treating its customers with integrity.

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