In Case You Were Wondering...the history of the 4-Way Test 
 
In addition to attending weekly Rotary meetings with knowledgeable speakers, local and global Service Above Self projects and sharing fun get-togethers, Rotarians worldwide unite in applying four principles referred to as The 4-Way Test. The questions in the test prompt Rotarians to ask the question, “how then should we live?” 
 
In light "of the things we think, say or do,
 
First:  Is it the TRUTH?
Second: Is it FAIRto all concerned?
Third: Will it build GOODWILLand BETTER friendships?
Fourth:  Will it be BENEFICIALto all concerned?"
 
and the West Oklahoma City Rotary club recites an additional one: 
 
Fifth:         Is it FUN? You bet!
 
In 1932 the Club Aluminum Company of Chicago (CACC), a cookware manufacturing company was on the brink of bankruptcy. Herbert J. Taylor, a Rotarian in line for the presidency of the Jewel Tea Company was loaned half time to CACC at the request of the Continental National Bank to avoid that probability. But after Taylor settled pending law suits and discovered the company was $400,000 in debt with lagging sales preventing it from servicing the debt, it was decided by the Continental National Bank that Taylor begin bankruptcy proceedings. Jewel Tea agreed and asked Taylor to return.
But Taylor couldn't turn his back on CACC's 250 employees. Making the decision to leave the Jewel Tea Company, taking an 82% cut in pay (from $33,000 to $6,000) and investing $6,100 for operating capital using his Jewel stock as collateral, Mr. Taylor became President of CACC.
Being a man highly regarded in faith, leadership and moral principles, Taylor's first plan of action was to change the ethical culture of CACC's staff by creating guidelines "of the things we think, say or do” to counter CACC's misleading advertising and various other problems. As was his habit, he prayed for inspiration and that resulted in the 4-Way Test. 
What ensued was a profound guide for all decisions at Club Aluminum, both small and great, no matter one's religious beliefs. He created a new inspired vision that appealed to the cross section of CACC's employees who not only benefited along with their families, but CACC's marketplace as a whole. Within 5 years, the company paid off their debt and in 15 years paid over $1,000,000 in dividends with their net worth climbing to $1,750,000. In turn, Taylor's vision propagated CACC's staff to share that same inspired vision for the next 45 years.
In 1938, when Taylor became President of The Rotary Club of Chicago, he shared the 4-Way Test with his members and in 1952 gave Rotary International (RI) permission to promote it globally. Becoming RI's president in 1954-1955, Taylor made use of his position to travel the world doing likewise, gifting the copyright of the test to RI during his regime.
Rotary International, comprised of thousands of members with differing religious, cultural and political backgrounds, has held to this relevant bedrock of ethical excellence for the past 67 years. Meetings are opened with the recitation of the Rotary 4-way test to serve as a reminder to Rotarians to sustain moral excellence in saying and doing the right things in their personal and business lives.
 
Is it the TRUTH? 
Truth is timeless. It's unchangeable. It is what it is with no getting around it. Often it makes us uneasy and sometimes unpopular. It's not a white lie or bending truth to make it more palatable, and it's certainly not leaving out relevant facts that sway another’s decisions in our favor. In short, truth corresponds to reality, the way things really are, and any deletion or addition to it is wrong. The truth sets us free from having to look back over our shoulder or stumbling back over our words. Simply stated, truth is having integrity in all we think, say and do. 
 
Is it FAIR to all concerned? 
Fair to all concerned can be argued philosophically, concluding with—not always. Fairness does not always reign in wartime, company downsizings or closures and sometimes even in the law of the land. But the question remains, “is the decision I am considering honest and fair to my family, friends, peers and humanity as a whole? The litmus test is putting ourselves in other's shoes and making decisions in the light of the golden rule, "treat others as you'd have them treat you,” which is nothing short of respect. Fairness can never be substituted in favor of our prejudices, personal gains or as a means for indifference or retaliation, but rather takes into consideration the interests of everyone who will be affected by our decisions with their benefit in mind for the long term. 
 
Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER friendships?
 
Anything short of honesty and fairness is a major deterrent to building goodwill and friendships, leave alone make them better. Remove those two elements and it becomes impossible to build and maintain relationships long term. Since friendships are built on trust and kindness i.e., goodwill, we need to always remain mindful that the decisions we make reflect the value we place on our relationships with others. Nothing erodes a friendship faster than the lack of truth, fairness and goodwill.
 
Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
 
Beneficial means to cause improvement, to be advantageous and good. Putting right (truth with fairness and goodwill) above convenience is at the core of benefiting others. It is an "advantage" mindset for others, stepping up to counter the challenges that hold others down. It's consideration for the future, improving other's quality of life through respect, responsibility and resourcefulness. Two prime examples of this are Rotary International's initiative's to eradicate polio and provide clean water sources. 
Striving to make our decisions "beneficial for all concerned" likely won't be pleasing to everyone, but decisions based on truth, fairness and goodwill will result in a win-win for all concerned such as Herbert Taylor did when he led CACC into profitability. I doubt the competition was overly excited, but even they were benefited in learning how to work harder and smarter, being challenged to set a higher bar of expectations, performance and ethical conduct.
 
Fifth: Is it FUN?
 
Rotarians are leaders. They "exchange ideas to take action to create lasting change—across the globe, in our communities, and in [themselves]."  
 
The 4-Way Test, based on the preamble "of the things we think, say or do," challenges one’s natural born selfishness and is a catalyst that precipitates change, preventing us from being insolent and inequitable. Appropriating the principles of the test not only leads to our immortal honor, but also positively impacts the world around us. And it’s this inner change that causes Rotarians to become authentic—thus, letting their “hair down” on occasion (if they still have any)!
 
In meetings, but especially at Service Above Self projects, Rotarians have a lot of fun! We get to see each other in action and through these opportunities we become somewhat bonded, if you will. You can learn a lot from and about others when you’re serving hotdogs and snow cones together; packing food boxes; ringing a Salvation Army Bell; wrapping Christmas gifts, etcetera! 
 
And at annual fund raisers and social get togethers. . .well, just take a look at these videos and you’ll see what I mean by West Oklahoma City Rotary Club Rotarians letting their hair down!
 
 
 
This author has been challenged and inspired by the depth of the 4-Way test and will be even more resolute in accepting its challenge in every decision made, in "small and great and fun times." I hope you will too.