How to Do What is Right No Matter What You are Told

“Obedience is doing what you’re told, no matter what’s right. Morality is doing what’s right, no matter what you’re told.”

In life, sticky situations lurk at every corner and discerning what moral action to take or not take is challenging in today’s society. Here are some steps to help navigate the minefield that awaits you at every decision point.

Shed the noise

Ask yourself what decision should be made without regard to influencers. Do not consider the external pressures exerted on you to force you to lean one way or another. The greater amount of information that is processed to arrive to a moral decision causes an incremental decrease in value of all the other pieces of information considered. Less is more and a filter that is able to discern the motives behind prevailing forces will greatly increase the likelihood of realizing a decision that is just.

Do not strive to be obedient

Obedience has no bearing on morality. Simply because one expects you to bend to their will, does not mean doing so is right. Instead, look to your motives behind making a decision and ensure such motives are pure and not one sided or damaging to others.

Ask questions

Questions are the best way to drill down to the core of an ethical dilemma. Without questions, knowledge does not exist. The fundamental notion of learning the root cause of a situation stems from asking the right questions to the right people.

Analyze the motives of all parties involved

Know the motives of those around you. Is there financial or personal gain for those pushing for a certain outcome? If so, look to the foundation from which each person stands to discern the direction in which you should lean.

Above all else, do the most good

The easiest way to navigate an ethical quandary is to always choose the option that exhibits the most good. Do not take into account what is being sold to you, for the motives of the seller should be suspect.

Ask yourself: “what if I have nothing to gain or lose”?

If you had nothing to gain or lose, what option would you chose? The answer to this question will help you to discern which direction to head toward.

Remain objective

Objectivity is the key to doing what is right. Getting caught in the scuttlebutt and becoming influenced by peers will quickly lead you to the path of destruction. Instead, neutrality toward all parties involved will help you to establish clarity.


Doing what is right means having the discipline to self examine your motives and others’ motives. Simply doing what you are told is not acceptable nor conducive to the notion of free will. Stand against the crowd and ask the questions that no one else is willing to ask.
-Justin A. Burger, MBA

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