Does Fidelity Really Matter?

Lesson number: 

Fidelity implies strict and continuing faithfulness to an obligation, trust, or duty according to Webster's Dictionary. In other words fidelity implies that you are honest and faithful. Period. Not only when it's convenient or absolutely necessary to be honest and faithful with some people. But with everyone!

Over the years, I have always tried to avoid being in the company of individuals who boasted about their infidelity in personal relationships. In fact I downright lost respect for an individual, once I reluctantly learned of their infidelity in personal relationships. Call me old fashioned or someone with their head in the sand in the 21st Century. However I still hold a high regard for those that are faithful and honest in all of their relationships. This type of thinking may appear to be out of sync with political correctness today, in light that many high profile, very successful individuals are uncovered daily, to be less than faithful in their personal relationships.

A couple of examples that really sadden me are Jack Welch and Rudy Giuliani. I have read hundreds of articles over the years about this dynamic duo and listened to their best selling audio books. I do admire both of these individuals for their accomplishments in their respective positions of leadership. They are very talented and have reached the pinnacle of success in their careers. They are both sought after speakers and consultants now, teaching individuals and companies how to implement best practices including integrity. Rudy is popular enough to actually run for President in 2008 and may even win if he does. I just wish that both of them could have ended their personal relationships admirably, before beginning their new relationships – which they both seem to be enjoying for the moment. I do realize that all personal relationships are not meant to be forever. However if you are so miserable in a personal relationship – why not end it with your head up high – before starting a new one?

Honesty and Integrity were the focal points of the characteristics professed by Jack and Rudy. I just can't seem to figure out why they couldn't practice these characteristics at home. I realize that high profile individuals have more opportunities to stray from the fidelity camp than common folks do. Members of the opposite sex find them intriguing and challenging to be able to meet and connect with them. This same scenario plays out with individuals like Giraldo Riviera, Charlie Sheen or Kobe Bryant. All talented individuals who I admire for their skills, yet I can't help but dislike them for their infidelity and dis-trustfulness displayed in personal relationships.

Next let's discuss - Bill Clinton, who millions of people love and admire. He's achieved rock star status in his own right, since he was caught in the act of infidelity and subsequently lied about it under oath. Now he's in a class of his own when it comes to not practicing fidelity. I have also listened to books written about Bill spanning his Governorship of Arkansas and his Presidential terms in office. The authors uncover facts that Hillary has known about and accepted his philandering ways for decades. That didn't make his actions right, however the authors believe that Hillary overlooked what Bill did because she had her own agenda to hitchhike on Bill's success en-route to achieving her lifelong dream of becoming the first woman president. Unfortunately Bill and Hillary have lost no credibility and surely have not suffered in the power or influence column, due to their lack of fidelity.

The question for this lesson is "Does Fidelity Really Matter" today? Is it too harsh to judge one of the top CEO's of the 20th Century by his record on fidelity at home? Many would say "who cares about Jack's affairs?" He led one of the most successful companies on the planet for a couple of decades and was great for his shareholders and the economy in general. Or how about JFK; another Jack that volumes have been written about regarding his infidelity. Did his lack of fidelity stop him from being popular, powerful and rich? The masses loved him.

In summary, I'm just not convinced that I agree with the philosophy that individuals who CAN'T BE honest and truthful in their personal relationships, can somehow BE honest and truthful with all their employees; clients; suppliers; or in the case of public office their constituents. Are there dual personalities at play here? Are personal relationships less important than business or political relationships where you can lie and abuse those you live with and be kind and truthful with those you do business with? I find this argument weak at best.

What's most intriguing about this entire discussion is the fact that after all of the above individuals discussed were unfaithful in their personal relationships, there was always another willing and able individual ready to enter a new relationship with them. Do these new mates really believe that things will be different with them? You must decide for yourself "If Fidelity Really Matters." I can just speak for myself. It definitely matters to me!

Listen to the Podcast of this Lesson