The two roads

Published 8:08 pm Tuesday, December 19, 2017

As we travel through life, we often meet the splitting of our road. One road goes uphill, while the other is a steep decline.

Earlier this year, I spoke with one of my fraternity brothers from college. One day, he texted that he needed advice before making a decision. While I am usually the person asking others for advice, I was ready to do my best.

Before I called, I thought about how I remembered him. We were both initiated into Kappa Alpha order in college and learned the value of conducting ourselves as a gentleman. Admittedly, my brother was more the gentleman than me during those college years. Today, he is the president and CEO of a business he founded 15 years ago.

When I called, I could sense something about him that I had never witnessed — anger surrounding his voice. A marketing executive of one of his longtime competitors, who he had always had a good relationship with, lied to him and a large potential customer in order to making them his new customer. The executive eventually won the trust of the potential customer and began conducting business with the company.

Consumed with anger, he wanted to confront the executive and tell his new customer about the misdeed. When he finished, my response consisted of only four words — take the high road.

A few weeks later, I spoke to him again. He seemed to be at peace. What he said next was something I needed to hear as a reminder to myself, “Jason, I took the high road.”

Vengeance can be satisfying in the short-term. But, what about the long-term?

My brother is one of the most respected leaders in his industry. He earned this reputation because people saw that he was a man of strong character. While a fierce competitor, he has always conducted himself like a gentleman.  Choosing the decline of the low road and continuing to do so in future situations would have changed his character. His positive reputation would have become negative and the community would have lost a good man.

As it turned out, the executive’s lie was discovered by an employee of the executive’s company. The lie was brought to the attention of the new customer’s executive board.

Today, my friend and the executive’s former customer enjoy a mutually beneficial business relationship.

Jason W. Swindle Sr. is a Senior Partner and Criminal Defense Attorney at Swindle Law Group in Carrollton.