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Emmett Dulaney: Today's actions hurt tomorrow

Wed, 2012-05-23 08:15 -- univcomm
May 23, 2012

I have no recollection of why, but for some reason when we were kids my brother could not stand Catfish Hunter.

The very mention of the pitcher’s name acted as a trigger and caused Tony’s blood to come to a full boil of almost comic proportion. One evening, we were playing baseball in the front yard with some other kids from the neighborhood and were on opposing teams.

I played baseball about as often as Halley’s Comet came around, and my skills reflected this — as did the game’s score. When Tony came up to bat, I yelled, “Get it, Catfish” just to anger him and throw him off his game.

No sooner had the bottom feeder’s name passed my lips than the front door exploded and my father yelled for me to get inside. When I did, he tore into a tirade that had his whole body shaking. The gist of the rant was that I knew full well that my brother did not like that label. By using that name, I had introduced a possibility for him to be called that by others. This could cause him to become angry and act out — fighting, quitting the game, storming off, and so on. Not only could this spark be lit during the game today, my father continued, but now that the other kids knew how sensitive he was to it, it could be used for years to come.

“And,” my father continued, “You will be held responsible for any and every action your brother takes related to this for years to come. Every punishment he gets will be doubled for you.”

He said more, but I stopped listening because the crux of the case had been made.

We are responsible for our actions and all the ramifications that come from them. What we do in the moment affects not only this moment but every element of the chain of events that ensues forward. I was reminded of this after recently reading a number of business plan proposals in which so many of them were going to price their product with little or no profit. In some cases, they wanted to hurt their competition by undercutting them. In other cases, they were introducing new products and wanting to price them where others would then be afraid to enter. In all cases, they were setting into motion a series of events that would hurt them in the end. Sometimes, the hurt wasn’t confined to them but would affect the market as whole. It is amazing how much damage can be done in the long run by looking for some action/reaction in the short run.

As for the baseball game that night, I remember yelling so many things at Tony that my throat got sore. No matter what he did, I howled. I called him Bubba one time, Teddy Bear another and a lot of other things that made no sense but served to keep anyone from remembering that there had been a Catfish in there once. Sometimes we get a chance to redeem ourselves, but only when we swiftly act.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology. The Falls School of Business is one of Anderson University’s largest academic departments offering eight undergraduate majors as well as MBA and DBA programs. The school is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) and is a member of the Christian Business Faculty Association (CBFA).

Columns from Anderson University’s Falls School of Business are published Tuesdays in The Herald Bulletin. Tuesday’s columnist is Emmett Dulaney, who teaches marketing and entrepreneurship.