Casablanca is viewed by many as one of the greatest movies of all time, and it is certainly among my favorite movies. It is hard to argue with Humphrey Bogart in his prime, especially as a cynical nightclub owner, simultaneously wooing Ingrid Bergman and sticking it to the Nazis. Here’s what IMDB has to say:
Set in unoccupied Africa during the early days of World War II, an American expatriate meets a former lover, with unforeseen complications.
Admittedly, that description is quite vague, and there's so much more to the story. And while I highly recommend you watch Casablanca just because it is a fantastic movie (and if you haven’t seen the movie before, you should stop now, watch it and come back because I'm about to spoil the ending), there is an important lesson we can learn.
Do the Right Thing
Even though Rick loves Elsa and wants her to stay with him, he knows that keeping her, even if though she wants to, would be wrong. She and Rick only had a relationship, prior to the events of the movie, because she believed her husband, Laszlo, was dead. So, in the end, rather than run off with Elsa (and let's face it, he easily could have), he convinces Elsa to get on the plane with Laszlo and sticks around to ensure they get away safely.
It's doubtful any of us will find ourselves in the position of saving a former flame from Nazis, but we will often face choices where it would be easier or more beneficial personally to act in a way that's harmful to another. In the end, doing the wrong thing tends to come back to haunt you, with the GM scandal from a few months ago immediately coming to mind.
Doing the right thing could lead to good long-term benefits to your business as well. First, doing the right thing should reduce the risk of legal trouble, because the right thing is often the legal thing as well. Additionally, doing the right thing will increase employee trust in the company, as well as employee happiness, leading to increased production and greater retention.
And if that isn’t enough, doing the right thing means you get to wake up every day, look at yourself in the mirror and like who you see.
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