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Article -> The Four-Way Test

Date Added: June 2009

Note: This article appeared in the June 21, 2009 issue of The Green Bay Press-Gazette.

Honesty. Trust. Integrity. Ethics. Ideals that used to be taken for granted. Unfortunately, this no longer applies.

Perhaps we should ask some basic questions when interacting with others – employees, co-workers, suppliers, customers – even friends. However, what questions would illicit the answers we seek?

This is something I’ve given a lot of thought, possibly too much, and lost many nights of sleep. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older. Maybe it’s because I’m a realist. Maybe it’s because far too many people are running scared these days; only looking out for themselves instead of the “greater good.”

Whatever the reason, the questions to ask were right under my nose. I’m a member of the Rotary Club of Green Bay, representing Rotary International. Rotary is one of the world’s largest service organizations and was formed 104 years ago.

Coined in 1932, Rotary has something called “The Four-Way Test,” which has been translated into 100+ languages. The “test” asks four simple questions:

  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?

Re-read these questions. I have yet to find an instance where asking them hasn’t led me to a good decision and/or the ability to truly determine if the other person is being honest, trustworthy, acting with integrity, or ethical.

Think about it. Do you believe what you’re hearing is the truth? Is it fair to all concerned (i.e. the “greater good”)? Does it strengthen relationships through goodwill and friendships? Is it beneficial to all concerned?

Myriad books have been written about how to effectively operate a business or how to interact with employees; yet, we’ve had the basic answer since 1932.

Truth. Fair. Goodwill/Friendships. Beneficial. Four items to guide the things we think, say or do. How simple our personal and business lives would be by constantly asking these questions.

If you can think of any instance where these four questions don’t apply, please email me at

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