There has been a great deal in the news recently about trustworthiness and honesty. Whether it is a news reporter recalling events from the past, a sports team gaining a competitive edge, or public figures denying the truth that seems apparent to all of us, the lessons learned on the importance of telling the truth are still being learned each and every day. History most certainly repeats itself on issues of integrity in our world.
As individuals, and as a society, we all seem to feel comfortable pointing out the apparent flaws in others and passing swift, public judgment for actions that go counter to the self-evidence of principles like honesty, trustworthiness, and respect.
As we continue to build and strengthen our character, these public disclosures can be a catalyst for us to do our own personal inventory around our actions to ensure we don’t become the next “lesson learned” on the front page of the paper, the nightly news, or for most of us, the only channel that really matters, the reality show we find in our own homes each day.
Below are a few thoughts to encourage all of us to develop the habit of looking in the mirror on a regular basis:
(1) Self-Awareness: It requires little effort to become the judge and jury for individuals and events that come across our screens. However, the hard work is in exercising the courage and discipline to do our own personal inventory of our daily actions around the small stuff that matters, when no one is looking or filming our life story. It was Jesus Christ who said, ““Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Self-awareness of our own behavior is an important discipline to reach our full potential.
(2) Principles Matter Most: Concerning all things, it is the principle that matters most, not the size of the audience or the infraction. Yes, bigger than life figures in our world cast a big shadow and their poor choices have a wide ranging impact. However, our integrity around the dinner table, in the classroom, in the workplace, and in the mirror is our opportunity for greatest impact.
If the statistics are right, a very, very large number of us need to look in the mirror and reflect on a few actions that impact our trustworthiness. Here are just a few to help all of us to do a little reflecting:
We lie and cheat on our taxes. Maybe we should just describe it as a minor mistake in declaring donations to charitable organizations or in forgetting about some additional income we did not disclose.
We hire the guy who says, “If you pay me in cash, it will be $300 to do the work, but if I have to send you an invoice, it will be $550.” Maybe we should just describe it as getting a really good deal.
We lie on our resumes. Maybe we should just describe it as a slight stretch of our experience to ensure we qualify for a particular job.
Although the vast majority of us will not find “our version of events” on the nightly news, we should acknowledge the truth that it is not the size of our audience that matters, it is the principles that guide our daily actions that matter most.
We all should take a deep breath and be thankful that we did not have to make our own personal full disclosure in front of millions of people. However, in a world that is becoming completely transparent in all areas of our lives, we all should be well warned that the next YouTube video that goes viral may feature one of us when: (A) The tax auditor arrives at our house (B) A former boss runs into us after a job interview and says, “You never did that when you worked in my department. Why is this on your resume?” or (C) The content of some secret email account, harsh text messages, or internet search results get released to the world…or perhaps just to those in our home.
When we exercise the courage and commitment to look in the mirror, honestly see our own shortcomings, and make a plan to change our behavior, we will build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® for us to be a positive influence on those around us.