What Spike Lee Taught Me About Doing The Right Thing

You can and will produce remarkable work by making one simple adjustment:

Do The Right Thing.

No shit, right? But it’s a little more complicated than that.

There’s the right thing and then there’s simply doing things right.

You’re probably doing things right because it’s easy. You’re engaging in something you already know how to do. It feels safe. But it’s not exponential.

You follow the policy, you check the boxes, you log your calls, you complete the TPS report, you compare your Google Analytics to the same day last year.

In contrast, doing the right thing is often tough because you won’t have all the answers or a direction. It’s likely it’s never been done before, you are exposing yourself to criticism, and it doesn’t feel safe.

It’s time to stop using the word ‘policy’ and empower every employee to make decisions, this report should never be used again, stop comparing our analytics to last year and instead, compare to a challenging objective.

Doing things right is about efficiency, it means turning the crank correctly. Effectiveness is doing the right thing, turning the right crank. Do you want to try to be efficient before you’ve become effective?

Doing the right thing is looking forward, doing things right is repeating the past.

It was Ossie Davis’s key life lesson to Mookie, played by Spike Lee in the aptly named 1989 movie, Do The Right Thing.

Da Mayor (Ossie Davis): Doctor!
Mookie (Spike Lee): C’mon, what. What?
Da Mayor: Always do the right thing, Doctor.
Mookie: That’s it?
Da Mayor: That’s it.
Mookie: I got it, I’m gone.

You can do things right or you can do the right thing. Amazingly it’s up to you.

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