~Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic to living our life with integrity~ W. Clement Stone
These days a variety of media bombard us with what we should buy, how we should act, what we should think and what we should believe. Our homogenized news is quite similar from one news outlet to the next with relatively few differing viewpoints represented.
Thinking for ourselves seems almost superfluous. All we have to do is follow the crowd and moo once in a while as all good herd members do. Several years ago on a trip to London I passed the famed Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park. Here there is never a lack of viewpoints to consider. Maybe we should establish such corners in every community.
Politics, fashion, entertainment and religion group us into herds following one trend or another. We become more comfortable interacting with others once we know where they stand in these categories.
I remember college gatherings when I talked until the wee hours with my colleagues. Most of us strove to hone our beliefs so we could finally decide who we were and what we stood for. Everyone sought ways to make better sense of life and what possibilities awaited us. While it can feel reassuring to follow the crowd, it also diminishes who we are as individuals and what we uniquely contribute to society.
Affirming our beliefs and life standards can at times make us unpopular with others, sometimes with people we want to accept us. So can refusing to compromise on what is most important to us. At such times we face the painful choice between acceptance by others and our integrity. Sometimes being true to ourselves means disappointing others. Such choices are never easy.
How can we maintain our integrity without further fracturing our relationships? First we must know and articulate the values we hold dear to ourselves and to those whom we care about. Next we must understand what is important to those with whom we associate. If our values match those of others, the rest is easy. If not, our challenge is to enjoy our areas of agreement and learn to respect each others’ differences.
Maintaining our sense of perspective is also important. As entrenched as we might become in our personal beliefs, we should remember that as long as we live, we have more to learn each day. While remaining true to our values, we should always remain open to reconsidering and adjusting how we apply our principles based on what we learn from our experiences.
Life Lab Lessons
- State out loud or write down what is important to you.
- How hard is it to share your values with others?
- Take the same care in understanding others’ values.
- Realize that your way may not be the only right one.
- Share the respect you would like from others.