We live in a complicated world.  We live in a world where (to quote a line from an HBO show) “some people’s terrorist are other people’s freedom fighters,” and in a world where the difference between right and wrong is too often in the eye of the beholder.  With so much ambiguity in this world, it can be difficult to follow one of my main passions… however, I will never give it up.  I have, and will always, strive to do what is right and make the world a better place.

Beginning with the Torah and history books, to a vast archives of court public records and government declassified documents, to a seeming limitless number of websites — we find our written history.  This is where we look to find historical context of what we have judged and decreed to be right or wrong.  With over 5000 years of written history we have seen when mass hysteria and fear wins out over logic and morality (the Salem witch trials) or when propaganda and manipulation prey on people’s hate over compassion and integrity (the Holocaust).  History does not always have a happy ending as we sometimes see the bad guys win (Genghis Khan) or when kind and generous societies are wiped away in the name of greed and progress (the indigenous people of North America).  We have constant reminders of points in history when morality seems to be overcome with some other emotion, and I often wonder – why?

Why do the inequalities in our world seem to grow daily?  Why, since a home land was created for the Jewish people, have there been people trying to destroy it?  Why, since my birth roughly 40 years ago, has there been military-style fighting every day of my life on this planet?  There is no easy answer to any of these questions, but I often wonder if both sides of these conflicts were guided by something more, how might our world be different?

I believe our founder Les Wexner has helped to provide us great insight into this “something more” when he references a moral compass.  A moral compass is something to help you monitor if “you are doing the right things” and “making the same type of decisions when no one is in the room.”  Les explains that a moral compass helps you make decisions not from a selfish point of view, but rather from a viewpoint of integrity.  “How pure can I be in my decision-making?” Les hypothetically asked in a recent interview.

Are all great leaders — today and in the past — guided by this moral compass?  Guided by “pure” decisions?  I am doubtful, but I am certain, even before hearing Les’s description of a moral compass, this is something driving me.  From the earliest age, I was not good at being mischievous.  I often had this feeling of uneasiness when something wasn’t morally “kosher” and to this day I may not always be able to describe why something might be perceived as right or wrong, but I get a certain feeling — which, I think most Wexnerites can relate to — where our moral compass helps lead the way.

Thankfully, I have a great trust in my moral compass, and I believe doing what is right has helped me grow as a leader.  As a leader, you quickly learn the consequences of your actions are significant when the results not only affect you, but everyone you are leading.  You quickly learn not everyone in the group will have the same moral compass, and conflict and complications arise.  However, in my experience, if you can do what is right and help others to see what is right, bonds will build and conflicts may remain, but resolutions will prevail.

Les tells us this is something we need to work on and practice — and today, it may be more important than ever.  When we have world leaders who are constantly making morally reprehensible decisions, we need to rely on our moral compass to help guide us and help others (who look to us for guidance) as a stabilizing force for good.  Now, more than ever, we get an alert on our phone or see a story in our social media news feed and become numb.  How can someone make a decision to destroy the earth to make more money?  How can someone decide to break apart families without a due process?  How can there be so many powerful people who take advantage of their position of power in lieu of morality?  I don’t get it, because I have that uneasy feeling.  I can’t do something that I feel is morally ambiguous, because it will literally give me more stress and anxiety then the extra work or annoyance of just doing it right… thankfully, I have my moral compass to guide me.

Get To Know The Author

Adam Reiss, Wexner’s Director of Communications, falls into the class of one of America’s multi-talented visual design artists. Recognized as a creative and practical problem-solver and as an enthusiastic, resourceful professional, Adam projects a unique ability to adapt quickly to challenges and changing environments. After receiving a Masters of Arts in Visual Communications from The Ohio State University, Adam focused on “raising the bar” to create new digital media for his craft and, more importantly, his clients.  Adam and his amazing wife, Shara, are raising their three incredible children (all under the age of 10) in picturesque Bexley, Ohio.