Are you still looking for a New Year's resolution? Rotary International, the nation's oldest civic club has one for you – the Four Way Test.
This test was developed by Hubert J. Taylor in 1932 while serving as president of the world's oldest Rotary Club in Chicago. After graduating from Northwestern University, Herb worked for the YMCA in France. He joined the Naval Reserve in World War I. He moved to Oklahoma in 1919 and established a Rotary Club in Wynnewood. Taylor returned to Chicago in the 1920s and joined Rotary Club I founded by Paul Harris in 1905.
He gave up his job in packaged groceries and joined 250 other employees in a bankrupt aluminum company described as a "sinking ship." The test was written primarily for this company. Every aspect of company operations, sales, promotions, advertising and dealing with customers were subject to this 24 word code of ethics, The Four Way Test:
Of the things we think, say or do:
1. Is it the TRUTH?
2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
3. Will it build GOODWILL AND BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
In spite of difficulties, rigorous adherence to the test is credited with saving the company.
From its earliest days, a goal of Rotary has been to promote high ethical standards. This test is a good fit for these ideas. Taylor, who later served as president of Rotary International, gave the rights to the test to Rotary.
For several years the Neosho Rotary Club has sponsored a speech contest on the Four Way Test. This is a most appropriate project since the local club sponsored the first speech and debate tournament at NHS in the 1950s.
Participants are awarded scholarships. Some students have gone on to win an additional scholarship in competition at the district level. The winner of the 2012 contest was Michelle Forbes who is now a student at Missouri State University.
The Four Way Test is one of the world's best-known codes of business ethics but it's available to everyone. Of the things you think, say, or do, Rotary invites you to apply the Four Way Test.
Happy New Year!
Roy Shaver writes a weekly column for the Daily News.