The Golden Rule in There's No Such Thing as Business Ethics, a Book by John C. Maxwell

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 4652 |

Pages: 10|

24 min read

Published: Oct 17, 2018

Words: 4652|Pages: 10|24 min read

Published: Oct 17, 2018

The bestseller There’s No Such Thing as “Business” Ethics written by John C. Maxwell focuses on the main idea that rather than business ethics, people should focus on just plain ethics (personal ethics). He suggest that we should be living our lives by what he refers to as the “Golden Rule”: How would I like to be treated in this situation? Maxwell believes that this is the “golden rule” because all humans want to be valued, trusted, and understood. People should use the Golden Rule as a kind of flashlight when we are faced to make ethical decisions.

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With Maxwell's success and working with large corporations, in the book he explains how to get through difficult situations using the Golden Rule. Exploring how people can overcome the obstacles of compromising their actions over their ethical morals along with how to build your morals that are in line with the Golden Rule within a business world. Lastly, he discusses the concept of how being the wealthiest does not measure your success nor happiness. People going for the gold will be asking more questions about themselves rather than if they go for the Golden Rule.

John C. Maxwell is a small town, self-acclaimed man. His journey did not start with the thought of being a bestseller author. Maxwell started off his life as a pastor in a small town in Ohio. He soon started to realize the leadership that was being transformed within himself along with the connections he was making. Coming from his church roots he had the mindset of having the mission of helping others reach their full potential, which he dedicated his life to teach. According to his website he states that “ I believe it has the power to change us individually, connect communities, be a catalyst to corporations, and transform countries around the world.” He did more than achieve these goals of teaching and connecting; he became a author on the New York Times bestseller list and was named the number one leadership expert in the world by Inc. Magazine. He has developed many organizations that abide by what he stands for and the wisdom that he is able to share with and teach to individuals or businesses.


There is no better book to read for a business ethics class than the bestseller There’s No Such Thing as “Business” Ethics written by John C. Maxwell. I believe that this book is helpful to any business professional or anyone who is struggling to make ethical decisions. Maxwell touches on the very tricky question of what is the baseline of ethics in the business world. After reading the book, I believe chapter seven, How to Develop the “Midas Touch,” is one of the most important chapters. The discussion about how real wealth is not what makes us happy anymore, but rather how we treat others. The main points of the chapter is to develop a “Midas touch” with others by focusing on them and adding value to what you can bring to them. Maxwell touches on how you should treat people better than you are treated, going the extra mile to help the people who cannot help you, doing right when it is natural to do wrong, and keeping promises no matter what.

Focusing on the one thought of the Golden Rule and having self-reflection questions allows myself and others develop our actions with the thought of ethical decisions with this fundamental rule. Having attended a college that focuses on servant leadership, the thought of having the Golden Rule as an ethical compass, along with developing my “Midas touch” will render the battle of making decisions easier as I enter the business world within the next year.


When you think of the subject of ethics, what is your gut reaction? Is it positive or negative? Is it something you would look forward to thinking about, discussing, and applying to your life? Deep down, do you believe that a person can be ethical and still win? Explain.

When I think of ethics, I think of what is morally correct. I foresee ethics to be a positive aspect in someone’s life, but many people do live by negative ethics. I do strive to show positive ethics within in my work as a leader and as a student because I know others are watching and possibly following in my footsteps. I believe if someone is a flexible with good ethics they can still win. You can adapt good ethical practices to fit the situation and group to better everyone.

Do you use one set of behavioral standards for all areas of your life, or do you use several---depending on where you are, who you’re with, or what you’re doing? Are you essentially the same person using the same standards at work and home, with clients and family members, while playing ball or helping at church? Do you believe it’s possible and desirable to use just one standard in every area of life? Explain.

I think I use several behavioral standards, depending on whom I am with and the environment. I foresee myself being more professional in a school or work setting, which does change my behavior when I am with my friends or at an informal setting. I am the same person, just some aspects of my behavior such as choice of words do change to fit my environment.

I do believe it’s possible, but just not always desirable to have one standard in every area of life. I think this because you should be able to be the face of a company, but there is a point in time when that formality is not needed like your family.

Think about someone you trust completely. (If you can’t think of anyone, explore why you are reluctant to trust people.) Now think about why you trust him or her. List qualities describing that person.

I trust them because they have given me no reason to not trust them. This person has always been honest with me, respected me when I was uncomfortable, and is always willing to listen to me when I need someone to vent too. Trust in my past has been lost with many people, but I try to not drag that into new relationships with people.

What are you currently using as an ethical guideline? Describe it.

I wouldn’t say there is a set guideline that I use, but in a lot of my decisions I consider what would a Christian leader do or what would best fit the everyone. The Christian leadership guide line follows in line with what the college teaches us serving others as being a servant leader to follow in the way our Lord has allowed us too. Another kind of treat others the way you want to be treated.

When you interact with people, how do you naturally evaluate them? Do you think of them in terms of talent, wealth, intelligence, beauty, or people skills? Or do you use some other criteria? Now that you’ve identified your natural bent, think about how it might affect the way you treat people. How might it impact your ethical standards?

When I interact with people I do evaluate them, like people say first impressions matter. When I first meet someone I evaluate them on how they look, which can be considered a bad thing to do. I know it is not a positive thing way to judge someone, but it is my natural instinct to evaluate someone with their looks with my first interaction. Even though the looks does not justify how I act towards them, someone's personality and actions towards me is how I evaluate them. I think the looks is just the natural instinct for my judgement, but I don’t form an official judgement until I actually interact and have a conversation with a person. I don’t usually act different people when it comes to evaluate them, the only way I would act different is whether I act formal or informal with them base on the atmosphere I interact with them .

What was your reaction to the many variations of the Golden Rule in the religions of the world? Do you believe the universality of the Golden Rule is relevant to the argument for a single standard of ethics? Why or why not?

I find this very interesting because in a world that focuses on differences and the negative aspects of world we can a common ground with ethics. With ethics being such a controversial topic and finding how similar many different religions can have the same bases as the Golden Rule.

I think the universality of the Golden Rule is a good standard for ethics because you can see that many different religions have the same idea of how people should act no matter what your background is.

What are the benefits of using the Golden Rule as the guideline for personal ethical conduct? For business? What drawbacks do you see?

This question makes me think of the argument “business is business.” I think many business minded people seek wealth and rather than overall concept of the business. Many people would argue that there is no guideline for ethical business because decisions can be tough with many different and changing factors in an issue. I personally think it should be a guideline for personal and business ethics. With that said, I think everyone also needs to be educated with the topic of ethics and ethical decision making. There always be people who do things just for money and I see that being the biggest drawback on making a set guideline for ethics.

Can you think of a situation in which it would be difficult to apply the Golden Rule as an ethical standard? If so, explore who would be affected by the decision and how they would be impacted. If you still see difficulty, discuss the issue with a friend or colleague and see if you can come up with an application.

One of the discussions in class was would you steal from your company if your little boy had a rare disease and the insurance company denied you because there is no cure. I foresee this being a difficult decision because you don’t want to hurt your family nor your work. If the only way to pay for the treatment is to steal would make things tough. Having practice making ethical decisions with the Golden Rule, I feel like you can fight the thought of stealing and have alternatives to get the money. Even if it means of working more, having a fundraiser, or expressing your situation with your boss. In a society where people are willing to help, there is a way to find money to fulfill the need of possible finding a cure for your boy rather than taking it unethically and having to live with that thought.

Jim Blanchard said some of the benefits of using the Golden Rule at Synovus were “lower turnover, fewer EEOC claims, almost a disappearance of any kind of harassment issues.” What benefits can you envision in your business or industry?

Creating an environment where people feel safe and respected will only allow the company to grow in numbers and people. Employees look for acceptance and want to be heard, being in an environment which has this set in stone, people will want to stay and being to grow. This will allow people have the thought of its not actually work if you enjoy your work. This will allow growth to the highest level.

What kind of education or training in morals or ethics did you receive while you were growing up? Do you consider your experience a strength or a deficiency? Please explain.

Attending a public school there was not many opportunities to explore how to develop a baseline of individual ethics. My family were well educated and hardworking folks, so I believe how they raised me was the biggest training I received. They allowed me to be independent and search for a religion that I fitted into the best. I was able to start traveling a young age, which led me study abroad in high school. I attended bible studies every Wednesday while growing up to understand the calling of God. Which led me to do mission statements in middle school and high school. I feel like I never had formal training on what my ethics should be as someone would had with a private education. I do feel like the training I had was realistic and allowed me to develop as a person and find the best fit in life.

Describe a situation from your past in which a person in authority expressed value, appreciation, and respect for you. Why does that incident stand out to you? How did you respond?

I am an aid for a guy that has Cerebral Palsy and during one shift everything just went wrong. Patrick lives with his parents and when I come over his parents would do date night so they could get out of the house. One night I was getting Patrick ready for bed, I put him in his stander then his feet slipped out under him causing him to have no balance but to be hanging by his armpits. It was one the scariest situations I have been in because I couldn’t do anything because we weighed around 200 pounds. I eventually had to find a way to get him out of the sling, which was dropping him on the ground. I contained myself until his parents came home, which led me to crying because I felt so bad because others had to come help pick him off the floor. His parents (my bosses) expressed how grateful they are for me and know nothing else could have happened, then offered me a shot of vodka to calm my nerves. I found their reaction to be very calming and reassuring because I was very much shaken up and didn’t want to be responsible for taking care of Patrick anymore. Two years later, I still take care of him and they always remind me how much of blessing I am in their lives.

Describe a situation from your past in which someone treated you with disrespect or mistrust. How did you respond? How did that set the tone for your interaction with that person? Were you able to work things out to build or restore the relationship?

My summer job for the past two summers I as promised to have certain responsibilities, but as the season went on I never had the opportunity to have them. I would ask my boss when I could start with those responsibilities or if I could join the others who were doing those things. She would push the questions off and then give me more busy work. After two summers of doing this, I avoided interacting with my boss because I felt disrespected because they were just ignoring my requests. As of today I was never able to build nor restore the relationship even though they requested for me to come back for a third summer.

When you meet people who are noticeably different from you, how do you respond to them? How does your approach impact your interaction with others? Are you willing to try to see things from another’s point of view? What will it take for you to make the change? What area of your life will be most affected if you do change?

When I meet someone who is different, I don’t act any different just because I like to get know people first. When I meet new people I try to be funny because I think it sets the tone of the conversations and it can be more welcoming. My point of view can be changed after talking to the person because it gives me a little more idea who the person is.

How might poor character limit college and professional athletes in their lives and careers? How might poor character work against someone in your career area?

Personally, people skills are super important when it comes to success. Being able to express your thoughts, goals, lead, and communicating the can lead someone to success. People will able to play or work with them with creates that respect between which can lead them to success. With poor character, people will shy away from those people which can leave that person lonesome and less successful.

Have you ever known someone who states one ethical position and lives something different? How credible is that person? How does that impact his or her life and work?

Yeah, I do find them still credible because they respect how I stand with the position and never has the intent disrespect me or change me. They have a huge impact on me because I rely on this person a lot, but it makes things easier to accept his position when we both respects each others views.

Which is more difficult for you: making an ethical decision alone when no one will find out, or making an ethical decision when other people are pressuring you to conform to a lower standard that your own?

Making an ethical decision when other people are pressuring me to conform to a lower standard would be more difficult for me. Knowing that people don’t respect my views on things and want me to conform when they can’t see my views of things. I’d be willing to listen why they think their decision would be right, but doesn’t mean it will influence me to change my morals. I also don’t like pressure, I usually fall into pressure, but if my moral compass is strong enough I know I can stand strong with my decision.

What has been put in place in your profession or career area in the way of accountability? Do you think it is effective? Explain.

The thought of disappointment. Disappointing people is a huge concern for me in life, especially my parents. They do so much for me and I all I want in life is make them happy for investing in my future and allowing me to do the things to the things I want to do. I think it is effective because no matter of the work I get or the goals I set they get accomplished. It allows me to have a purpose for doing well in school and find my dream career no matter what it takes.

Has there ever been someone in your life from whom you’ve requested accountability? What was that relationship like? Would you characterize it as successful? Why?

In a new job I always seek accountability with the bosses and employees. I think so because I always have had good relationships with these people even though sometimes disagreement was present.

Who in your life is a current candidate for the position of holding you accountable?

My parents. They help me with paying for my schooling, so doing well in school allows them to keep me accountable to continue to receive that help.

Which of the five factors is most often your problem area: pressure, pleasure, power, pride, or priorities? Why do you think you are especially susceptible in that area?

Pressure, I always fall into pressure with situations because a lot of time I just want to fit in. There has been situations where I could stand up for myself and not fall into the pressure, but most of the time I want to fit in so I fall into it.

When you are under extreme pressure, how do you respond? Is your natural reaction to relieve the pressure at all costs? Or do you try to grow and learn from the experience? Give an example.

I freak out a little from extreme pressure, but the task or job always gets done. It is natural for me relieve the pressure by taking a break or venting my issues to people. I usually do grow from situations, which I don’t usually look at pressure as a negative thing. I think this class could be a great example of great pressure, having a semester class shoved into a less than three week time frame. It is not a negative thing, but gives me an opportunity to work on my procrastinating and time management.

Discipline learned in one area of life can help to build character in other areas. Describe experiences in your life through which you learned to delay gratification and develop discipline. How can those experiences and the lessons you’ve learned help you become more disciplined in an area where you currently need improvement? Explain. How will you make the transfer?

When I started working with Patrick I was going to school to be an Occupational Therapist so I could work with special need kids. After a few course I realized that path was not for me and I debated if working for Patrick would be even worth it. I stuck with it because I knew they struggled finding people to work with Patrick and I really struggled with the workload because it was a new experience. Since I stuck with the job I didn’t want to do, I have developed so many skills I never knew I would have. Going for a business job, I thought this job would have no benefit but I was talking with a business professor about my resume. He looked at this job and said he would hire me on the spot because it shows my how responsible and personal I was. I never thought I could relate this job experience to the business world.

Strong leaders seem to be especially prone to abuses of power. How would you rate yourself as a leader (on a scale from 1 to 10)? Describe any struggles you’ve had with feeling of entitlement.

I would say 6-7 as leader. I never want to become the leader, but when no one in a group wants to step up I do it. I don’t mind being a leader just sometimes I have a lot going on and don’t feel like I can commit enough time to it which I don’t want it to lead to disappointment to the group.

Define your priorities. What are the three to five most important things in your life? Put them in writing. Now think about the potential conflict you will face because of those priorities. How will you navigate that conflict without compromising your ethics?

Happiness, family, friends, God. I want to move after graduation which would lead me to move thousands of miles away from my family, the people I rely the most on in my life. After talking to them, they know it will make me happy to move and they said they are willing to support and help me with the move. Their constant support helps with my morals, because how I raised was has shaped me. Their actions towards my priorities can help me develop those ethical skills for towards my friends and family.

Chapter 6

In your business or career field, what kinds of opportunities does one ordinarily look for? How would you define “a golden opportunity”? What character qualities would be beneficial to someone who desired to make the most of such an opportunity?

Not yet in my career field, but I foresee promotions being a opportunity. An “golden opportunity” would be something I thought I could be offered later on with hard work and passion, but given the opportunity right away before any credibility was created.

Which of the eight characteristics outlined in the chapter have you worked the hardest to establish in your life? How has that benefited your career? Explain.

What are your weaknesses? How will knowing them help you to guard against ethical lapses? Which weaknesses are character issues and which are matters of talent or experience? How can you encourage your colleagues or organization’s staff to compensate for talent issues?

As a college student I think taking responsibility for your actions has been the hardest I’ve been trying to establish. When it comes to procrastination I always tell myself I have time and can go do other things, but then I come to realization I don’t have time. I sit myself down and work until the work is done. Coming to the realization that I cannot keep doing this because is causes stress and pressure on my well-being, has helped me fight the urge to procrastinate. With procrastinating there is always the thought of cheating to get it done. I rather be stressed and get no sleep than cheat to get things done, which has led me to make that ethical decision. My boyfriend is the same way and we keep each other accountable to avoid the procrastinate, which helps us encourage each other.

How transparent and quick to admit mistakes are you? How can you improve?

I hate admitting my mistakes and they don’t come too quickly. I usually have to sit myself down with a calm state of mind to realize the find a way to admit with a solution. I can improve by this by not getting so worked up and admitting my wrong doing right away.

Why do you think it’s difficult for people to help others who can’t help them, do more than is expected of them, or keep difficult promises?

I think it is very difficult for people to help others, do more, and keep promises. We live in a time period where we seek attention and gratitude. If we help someone who can’t help them, the thought is what do I get out of it? People want to do more than expected if there is an end compensation. It is rare for someone to do more than asked just for their own good. Keeping promises can be difficult because sometimes you can’t fulfill them so you just drop them without any compensation. The feeling that you owe someone something is not a feeling people want.

Do you see value in taking the high road no matter what? When are you justified in treating people the same way they treat you?

I do see value with taking the high road, but only to an extent. People have to respect you to allow you to take the high road. For example, someone can’t take advantage of you because they know you will take the higher road than them, but compensate or bargain on what could be done. Treating people the way they treat you is justified if they treat you well. It allows respect to be giving and gained. You don’t want to treat someone bad if they do the same to you, this allows you to take the high road and set an example on how people should be treated.

In your business or career field, how could developing the Midas touch with people benefit not only you but also others?

I think making people aware that money is not the only reason they are at the company. Their opinions are important and will be considered because they seek to better the company internally which will lead the company to grow externally. This will allow employees to enjoy the work and be more willing to work.

How do you tend to treat people? Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 meaning that you always treat people better than they treat you and 1 meaning that you often find yourself engaging in petty conflicts.

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8, I do treat people really good because I can never say no to people. I do have a low annoyance level which allows me to distance myself from those people because I avoid those conflicts. When someone takes advantage of me I do stand up for myself, but I do rate myself with an 8 because we are all sinners and no one is perfect. I struggle with putting my differences aside which leads me to ignore those people, which allows me to not be the best person I could be.

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The Golden Rule in There’s No Such Thing as Business Ethics, a Book by John C. Maxwell. (2018, October 17). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 7, 2023, from
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