By now we’ve all heard about the political scandal involving former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife Sandra Jackson. In a courtroom appearance Wednesday, both political leaders plead guilty to misusing campaign money for personal expenses. According to reports, the couple spent more than $750,000 in campaign funds on everything from a Rolex watch to a mink cashmere cape and family vacations. There’s a lot professionals—especially those in politics— can learn from the once political power couple about how to handle money, power and respect in the public eye. Below are three lessons to take away from Jackson’s downfall to ensure that the same mistakes aren’t made in your career.
It’s never a good look to compromise character for money and power: No matter how successful you become, the first thing people will make judgment on is your character. Regardless of whether you’re an intern or CEO of your own company, the way you handle yourself not only in front of others, but also behind the scenes, will determine your leadership abilities. Never compromise your character and values for a higher position, new job, or to blend in with others because the dirt that you do in the dark will always come to light.
Even if done in the dark, your actions will eventually affect others: Before making any career decisions think about how your actions will affect those around you, whether it’s your co-workers, family or friends. Ask yourself is the short-term gratitude going to bring any long-term consequences in my professional or personal life?
Be conscious of how short-term gains can taint long-term legacy and branding. Your image and brand is everything when trying to establish and maintain a successful career. Any decision that makes you think twice is likely one that has the potential to either damage your brand or make your brand. Be smart about the choices you make in your professional life because in many cases all it takes is one mistake to ruin your career.