Driven, Yet Ethical

“Wherever a person can live, there one can also live well; life is also in the demands of court, there too one can live well.”


The wisdom shared with us in today’s entry in The Daily Stoic is that we can be driven and focused in our pursuit of what we want, while also maintaining our ethical obligations and living a good life. By “living well” in the quote above, Marcus Aurelius means doing what we know to be right and good.

Sometimes people think their particular chosen career — or their location, or the situation they find themselves in — is at odds with living a good and ethical life. Not so.

“Principles and pragmatism are not at odds”, author Ryan Holiday states. We can have both. It is possible to do the practical things needed to do your job and live your life, while also holding onto your morals and ethics. We can be driven by the requirements of career and life path, while still maintaining good and right ideals that guide us.

The point is that we can live well — a good and honorable life — wherever we are or whatever we do. Regardless of our circumstances, and despite whatever twisting path our life has led us down, we can still make decisions with good intent in mind.

Even in advertising

As you might have read in some of my previous posts, I work in advertising. That’s an industry that, at least in most people’s minds, is only a few pegs above lawyers and politicians. It’s often viewed as a shady and deceptive line of work, one that aims to “separate fools from their money” and manipulate people for the sake of profit.

Personally, I feel that advertising is sometimes those things, but that it doesn’t have to be. It all comes down to how you comport yourself, and the choices you make each day when doing your work, and the goals that you’re working toward.

I will admit to having made some choices early in my career, that I wouldn’t make today. I was young, and impressionable, and afraid of getting fired. Thankfully I learned from those mistakes, and have more confidence now.

Today, everything I do — even in this supposedly dubious industry of advertising — is something that I feel good about. I’ve woven my personal ethics and code of conduct directly into every action I take. If someone asks me to do something I don’t feel comfortable with, I push back. I do what I know to be good and right. I’m driven to live the life I want, and the work I want, but I’m ethical in how I do it.

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