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Free-rider Thinking
What will your legacy be?

Have you ever heard of free-rider thinking? It's the belief that our individual contributions don't really matter because we're part of a much larger society.

Here's how it works. If I throw an aluminum can in the recycling bin, it will not make a difference because it's just one small act. As long as giant companies keep spewing out tons of waste that can't be recycled, my single act is meaningless.

The pandemic brought out a lot of free-rider believers. People that think they can do what they want because that's what everyone around them is doing. Individuals so wrapped up in themselves; they're incapable of doing anything for the society they live in. Organizations that can make a real difference are ignoring this moment. Personal freedom is being promoted above the public good.

Every day I hear people say, why should I invest in systems or change my organization when nobody else around me is? My single act isn't going to stop the carnage, so why should I try? People are deciding to maximize their profits and take whatever they want while ignoring the consequences, because they believe that's how a free society works.

That sort of thinking has led to some pretty spectacular failures. In just the last 20 years, it contributed to the dot-com crash, the housing collapse and now a pandemic that's wildly out of control.

Doing the right thing is hard. But doing nothing is worse. Doing nothing kills customers, employees, friends and family. Doing nothing destroys many of the things it touches.

What will your legacy be? Are you going to be a free-rider? Will you take whatever you can, crossing your fingers and hoping you'll be spared the consequences of your greed and apathy? Or are you going to care about your employees, your customers, your donors, your friends or your family?

This message isn't directed to businesses, religious organizations, non-profits or government agencies. Over the last few months, you've all made your positions quite clear. For better or worse, you've written your legacy, and there will always be people who remember your actions.

This message is to the millions of individuals capable of thinking for themselves. Every day YOU get to make a choice. YOU get to decide how you'll be remembered. Are you going to do what's right, or what's easy?

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