Henry Marsh, the English brain surgeon, likens the decision whether – and when – to operate to playing Russian Roulette with two revolvers.
Most of us do not face such dilemmas on a daily basis. But whatever our field, be it medicine or law, journalism or finance, or psychotherapy or coaching, there are times that we must dig deep… and make a choice.
Such a decision is multifaceted: we consider the evidence; consult where appropriate; weigh up the risks and benefits; and inspect our principles. We ensure that our actions align with our professional code of ethics. We hold ourselves accountable.
But what happens when there is a misalignment between our personal ethics and our professional code? Or when the expectations of the business, client, or patient run contrary to the established ethical or legal framework?
Your ability to work through such conflicts depends, at any given time, on a number of factors including your emotional resilience; clarity of personal values; sense of duty and responsibility; and appetite for risk. It depends on your boundaries. And the weighting of your interests (in yourself, your profession, and the individuals or communities on whom you have an impact).
First and foremost, it depends on your commitment to, and understanding of, your own personal and professional integrity.
So, be prepared. Take some time to reflect. And, in the words of the Delphic Oracle: Know Thyself.
- What core principles do you, as an individual, bring to your profession?
- What challenges does your sector present to your personal and professional integrity?
- Knowing what you know, what keeps you awake at night?