Rotary’s Four-Way Test Good For Everyone

One time Yahoo CEO, Scott Thompson, would have had his job for longer than four months if he had followed the Rotary Four-Way Test.

Mr. Thompson came under fire when it became clear that he had lied on his resume by stating he had a degree in computer science when, um, he didn’t.


Yahoo terminated Thompson in 2012 when the fib became public, but critics and investors were starting to ask questions about the company’s culture.


About a year later, in a separate incident, Yahoo suffered a serious data breach.


At the time, the company said that the breach involved up to a billion Yahoo accounts.  Later, as the tech company was being readied for sale to Verizon, the number was adjusted to 3 billion.  Many thought Yahoo was either downplaying the damage or outright lying about it.

Business culture issues indeed.

Lance Armstrong, cyclist extraordinaire, won the famous Tour de France a record seven times from 1999 to 2005.


He’d still hold that record today, but Armstrong was stripped of the awards due to doping and lying about it.  Lance is not exactly a poster boy for the Four-Way Test.


He was found out because former teammates who'd been caught doping got tired of Armstrong portraying himself as "drug-free".


In other words, almost everyone on the cycling circuit was doping and working hard to keep it covered up.


You might hope that these embarrassing high-profile cases would help us improve our societal ethics.


To test that theory, I paused before typing this sentence to search the word “lying” on Google. 


A Dutch foreign ambassador, a Seattle Seahawks player and the President of the United States were on page one of the search.


The Four-Way Test


Rotary, the century-old service organization, provides all new members with a copy of the Four-Way Test of the things Rotarians think, say, and do.


Composed by an American Rotarian named, Herbert J. Taylor in 1932.


The Four-Way Test is used by Rotarians world-wide as a moral code for personal and business relationships.


The test can be applied to almost any aspect of life.


The sage advice brief and surprisingly simple:

  1. Is it the truth?

  2. Is it fair to all concerned?

  3. Will it build good will and better friendships?

  4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

As a lifelong Rotarian, I’m a fan of the Four-Way Test and refer to it often at home and in my career as a business consultant.


Here’s a short video on why you should give back, too.


United we stand


As a society, we are nothing without values and principles.

Comedian Groucho Marx had a funny one-line back in the day.  He said, “Those are my principles and if you don’t like them, well, I have others.


When a society as a whole takes a stand and agrees to uphold certain morals and ethics, its citizens develop a better understanding of what’s expected from them.


Do you, your company and the organizations you’re affiliated with honor the Rotary Four-Way Test


What could happen if you did?

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