When it comes to integrity the most important thing you can do for yourself is to be yourself — 100% yourself. If you are a young person should you change your favorite color, food or activity – just because someone else has a different favorite color, food or activity? Of course not. You have to be you!
Sometimes though we may feel timid or afraid to be ourselves as we try to fit in with the group that we are with. All of us like the idea of being accepted by others, but doing so at the cost of not being who we are can make us feel bad about ourselves. When we are true to ourselves we are showing integrity, and we have confidence in who and what we are.
Changing who we are to fit in with others may not allow us to enjoy the things that we are really good at and we may not be as happy with our choices in the long term. I often think about children who choose to go into an activity or a teen that applies to certain colleges, because that is what is expected of them and not because it is what they enjoy doing.
When we are true to ourselves, our friendships and relationships will be very honest. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously.” This is how character is built. Having the courage to be 100% authentic is how you build great character in yourself and great relationships with others.
Clement Stone, one of the greatest business people in the world, once said, “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 keys to living your life with integrity.” I found this quote interesting because when you ask a child, would you take a cookie if you were told not too, they would say NO! When asked why not the answer is almost always, “Because you will get in trouble.”
One of our favorite sayings in our classes that all of our students know is, “Do the right thing, because it is the right thing to do! Not because you will get in trouble” In fact we tell the students – “Do not worry about getting in trouble or not. The most important thing is do the right thing.”
While some will say that children know in their gut what is right and wrong and what are good choices and bad choices, I would disagree. As parents we have the responsibility to teach our children morals, values and ethics. When they see us practice those same things they begin to understand the meaning and importance of integrity. Our display of truth and honesty in our lives as adults, is how our children “learn to feel in their gut”, what it means to do the right thing.
This month we will talk about honesty, promises, being authentic to ourselves, and how integrity influences leadership and stress in our lives. Keep checking back in with us here, or visit our school and let your child take classes with us as we practice the martial arts and build character, confidence and contribution to the community.