February 21, 2008.
"He who has lost honor can lose nothing more."
We constantly here the terms honor and integrity casually tossed about these days, much like Frisbees in the park on a Sunday afternoon. But what do these words really mean? And more importantly, are they even all that relevant anymore?
Honor and integrity, once considered cornerstone principles that defined what a person was all about, have seemingly taken a back seat to expediency and turning a quick buck. Rather than doing the right thing because it's the right thing to do, too many people opt to do whatever fits their immediate best interests, even at the cost of honor. And that's a shame.
"Fame is something that must be won. Honor is something that must not be lost."
Webster's Dictionary defines honor as adherence to principles considered right. That means doing the right thing at all times. Not only when it's convenient, not only when we feel like it, and not only when the spotlight shines brightly upon us; but each and every time. Maintaining our honor is an absolute must, regardless of our current situation or circumstance, if we truly value our dignity.
But if integrity is indeed such an invaluable asset, why do so many willingly forsake their honor in pursuit of fame, fortune and self gratification? I don't know. Maybe they believe that turning their back on their integrity isn't really a big deal. Or perhaps they think doing the wrong thing is OK if nobody is looking.
But Thomas Jefferson warned of such foolhardy thinking when he said, "Nobody can acquire honor by doing what is wrong."
"To know what is right and not do it is the worst cowardice."
Even if we occasionally get away with acting in a devious, deceitful manner, who are we really fooling here? Does anyone actually believe that habitually kicking our integrity to the curb will benefit us in the long run? And while some may get away with dishonest dealings in the short term, sooner or later even they eventually pay the piper.
Even if we somehow manage to pull the wool over everybody else's eyes, there is one thing for certain. We can never fool ourselves. NEVER. Oh sure, there may be some who can con themselves into believing that they're not really doing anything wrong. Then there are others who will tell themselves that they're merely bending the rules or just doing what everyone else does. And some may even dupe themselves into believing that no one is on to their scheme. But deep down where it counts, they know they're not doing the right thing. And that's all that really counts.
"I hope I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man."
Honesty and integrity are not empty platitudes to those who have committed their lives to excellence in everything they say, think and do. They value who they are, what they stand for and what they're all about. They are not about to put their honor on the back burner, not even for a second, regardless of the potential gain or profit.
It's really not all that complicated. These straight shooting men and women of honor believe nothing is more important or more hallowed than their integrity. Not power, not influence, not even all the money in the world. Their word is their bond, their handshake a solemn promise. They are not for sell. Nor should you be either.
You don't have to cut corners or break the rules in order to get where you have always dreamed of going. In fact, by doing things the right way each and every time without exception, you'll not only attain your goals, you'll get there faster, healthier and happier than you ever thought possible. Better yet, you will have helped all sorts of other people along the way.
When it counts and where it counts, make certain your integrity counts for something truly special.
The Bottom Line: You can never go wrong by doing what's right.
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