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Nuance

The samurai had to adhere to strict codes of conduct. However, the code itself understood nuance and outlined with great clarity the nuances with which the code ought to be considered.

Here is a mention of doing the right thing:

There are three ways of doing right.

Suppose you are going somewhere with an acquaintance who has a hundred ounces of gold and wants to leave it at your house until returning, instead of taking the trouble to carry it with him. Suppose you take the gold and put it away where no one can find it. Now suppose your companion dies during the trip, perhaps from food poisoning or stroke. No one else knows he left gold at your house, and no one else knows you have it. 

Under these circumstances, if you have no thought but of sorrow for the tragedy, and you report the gold to the relatives of the deceased, sending it to them as soon as possible, then you can truly be said to have done right.

Now suppose the man with the gold was just an acquaintance, not such a close friend. No one knows about the gold he left with you, so there will be no inquiries. You happen to be in tight circumstances at the moment, so this is a bit of luck; why not just keep quiet about it?

If you are ashamed to find such thoughts occurring to you, and so you change your mind and return the gold to the rightful heirs, you could be said to have done right out of a sense of shame. 

Now suppose someone in your household - maybe your wife, your children or your servants - know about the gold. Suppose you return thee gold to the legitimate heirs out of shame for any designs anyone in your household might conceive, and out of fear for the legal consequences. Then you should be said to have done right out of shame in relation to others. 

Ben Horowitz recounts this while making a point that companies ought to illustrate their values clearly so as to leave no doubt in the minds of the employees as to what is expected of them.

We all have our own personal values and our personal codes of conduct, even if we don't think of them in that way. But, we often miss the nuance and the subtleties of the things we do. And hence, we doo contradictory things and end up in conundrums.

While we don't need to illustrate up front such scenarios, we do need to understand our underlying motivations that drive us to do certain things and behave in certain ways.

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