Ethical Maturity

We let right and wrong decide complicated issues and hope the world will reward our ethical behavior. Early in life, we learn good equals reward and bad equals punishment. Expecting to be rewarded for doing the right thing leads to disappointment.

Cover image for Ethical Maturity
Sometimes we miss what's important because we focus solely on doing the next right thing.

In Business

When I first started my agency TMV, I would produce marketing results for clients, but the same tools and processes would never work for me. The marketing work I did for myself was from the right things I did in client work.

Unfortunately, I never formed or completed a single plan. Zooming out over my business back then, we would have seen hundreds of half-done projects.

Chaos predates order. Chaos in any shape is still chaos.
Completion causes the order to exist.
Half doing a good thing means it is still half bad.
Therefore finishing is better than starting.
It is better to do a good thing poorly than to do half of a good thing perfectly.

Doing what seems right without a plan causes the right things not to matter.

Then when looking back, it feels like you are the problem.

Everything you did was right, but the only variable is you.

The Problem

We shame people for doing wrong and praise people for doing right. We see unethical behavior rewarded and ethical people punished. Having a small picture of right and wrong leads to carrying out an unfinished version of what is right. Going through the motions of doing what is right and not considering the future causes pain.

The Solution

Take control and decide to make your situation right, instead of only doing the right things. Too often, we feel out of control, and then we do what's right and hope for the best.

Choose to reject passivity and treat yourself as a responsibility. Having to rethink what we consider right is a scary concept. But asking why a thing is right can be very useful when deciding what's best for you.

Three questions I spent time on.

  1. Is there a condition that makes something right not good enough?
  2. What is my concept of right?
  3. How should something right be carried out?

These are pretty subjective. So chew on the meat and spit out the bones.

Is there a condition that makes something right not good enough?

Disregarding people's needs and safety in favor of correctness shows there is probably a better option.

What is my concept of right?

Right is the best possible outcome. It isn't the actions needed. It's the solution that accounts for capabilities and addresses the needs.

I highly value acting justly and love being able to show mercy, equally loving when I receive mercy. Finally, I choose to walk humbly with my values.

In a bad situation, receiving justice means it should be made right. For a solution to be good, it should alleviate or show mercy for the pain or complications of the situation. It should consider the wisdom of traditions, not for tradition's sake, but the benefits of insight learned from those that went before.

How should something right be carried out?

Humbly, with respect for yourself, your values, and your commitments.


I’ve seen some interesting feedback, and it sparked a few thoughts.

Rewards aren’t significant, and doing right should be rewarding enough.

I agree but let’s break that down. If today we found out we’d never be rewarded for anything again until the day we died, what would give fulfillment in life?

In this example, the sum of our good and bad deeds would decide if we lived well.

Is it right to expect someone to work for free? Should we defer our hope and be fulfilled by effort?

Effort’s definition is a vigorous or determined attempt. Attempting without reward is futility.

The proper reward should be a life well lived. Isn’t it better to live well in the moment, even if it means not doing every right thing?

Right is good, and wrong is evil. We should never get tired of doing good.

I take from that not doing something good is evil. It’s an impossible standard in my eyes.

There is an objectively good solution to every problem, but can anyone say they handled every situation properly?

Taking on the mantle of ultimate judge of what is good and evil for everyone we meet is a scary proposition.

I can’t think of a time in recent history when I feared doing something evil. That’s also a poor motivation to do good.

I’ve felt good compared to my past self, and when I move away from bad influences, I ask, “What is the best version of good I can do?”

I’ve decided to live by continuously sowing good in my life and those around me so we can be the rising tide that lifts all boats.

Instead of asking why do right? or what’s in it for me? Choose to do right because you can.

First, I want to honor the personal story you shared. Thanks for that.

For me, this article meant the option to decide for myself what’s right instead of being obligated to do every good thing.

All things are lawful [that is, morally legitimate, permissible], but not all things are beneficial or advantageous. All things are lawful, but not all things are constructive [to character] and edifying [to spiritual life]. ~1Cor 10:23 AMP

Through maturity, we can give ourselves more than the choice of simply good or evil, right or wrong. Some things are good but aren’t beneficial.

Final Thoughts

I worried this would be a weird idea, but I enjoy this topic.

It feels close to calling into question everything that we consider good, but the utility is in making better and more mature decisions.