The Four Way Test
More than 60 years ago, in the midst of the Great Depression, a U.S. Rotarian devised a simple, four-part ethical guideline that helped him rescue a beleaguered business. The statement and the principles it embodied also helped many others find their own ethical compass. Soon embraced and popularized by Rotary International, The Four-Way Test today stands as one of the organization’s hallmarks. It may very well be one of the most famous statements of our century.
Today, more than six decades since its creation, has the Test lost its usefulness in modern society, as some critics maintain? Is it sophisticated enough to guide business and professional men and women in these fast-paced times? You be the judge, but our youngest members in society see its value.
“Of the things we think, say or do:
Is it the TRUTH?There is a timelessness in truth that is unchangeable. Truth cannot exist without justice.
Is it FAIR to all concerned?The substitution of fairness for the harsh principles of doing business at arm’s length has improved rather than hurt business relationships.
Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?Man is by nature a cooperative creature and it is his natural instinct to express love.
Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?This question eliminates the dog-eat-dog principle of ruthless competition and substitutes the idea of constructive and creative competition.
The Four-Way Test is international, transcending national boundaries and language barriers. It knows no politics, dogma or creed. More than a code of ethics, it has all the ingredients for a successful life in every way. It can and will work in today’s society, especially if we can see to apply it.
One of our missions is to bring the basic philosophies and principles inherent in the Four Way Test to our youth. We do this through our actions, interaction with Rotary youth programs like Interact, but also in our local schools. The Rotary Club of Windermere sponsors an essay contest in partnership with the writing programs and curriculum of these schools. We provide prizes and public recognition for student essays based on the tenets of the 4Way Test relative to their own experience. Their observations and interpretations are heartening. The result is awe-inspiring.
Some of the winners in one of our four elementary schools.