Need More Moral Fiber in Your Diet?
(:05 read)“Just try to be the best you can be; never cease trying to be the best you can be. That’s in your power.” ~ John Wooden
Traits like character, integrity, and moral fiber seem to fascinate people. I read an article on a sports network website a couple of days ago that really got me thinking. The commentary was about a coach who seems to be turning a troubled program around. How is he doing it? Instead of drama, fits of rage, and huge shakeups, the focus is simply on doing the right thing. The sheer number of column inches devoted to describing him captured my attention and surprised me. Apparently, the man possesses qualities that have become so rare that they give him a certain mystique.
We’re starving for ethical leaders in our families, communities, and businesses. Have we forgotten how to develop integrity and moral fiber? In my next few posts, I’ll explore the positive character traits that can set a person apart from the herd. We can all think of people in our life that served as great role models or mentors to us along the way. I think we’ll find many similarities in the way we describe these inspiring people. We might use words like honest, kind, fair, consistent, and calm. When we’re lucky enough to have someone like that come along, it can be life-changing. If those traits are so valuable and held in such high regard why do they seem to be so uncommon?
Socrates was a Greek philosopher who lived almost 500 years before Christ. His enormous wisdom was widely revered. Two of his students were Aristotle and Plato which gives us an indication about the legacy he left for the ages. This quote is one of my favorite “Socratisms”; “The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms.” I love the study of words and their origins. When we learn how a term came about it can elevate our understanding to a much higher level.
What is character and how is it different from our reputation?
The word character is from the Greek kharaktēr, ‘a stamping tool’ so it’s pretty easy to see it means the distinctive marks or traits we each bear. A simple definition of character is the sum total of mental and moral qualities that are unique to us as an individual. It’s who we really are. A person’s character can be good or bad. The difference is revealed by observing what someone does (especially when they think no one is watching). We can learn much more by watching what someone does than by listening to what they say. Our reputation, on the other hand, is what others say about us. If we are focused on developing good character, we don’t need to do much work on enhancing our reputation.
“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” ~ John Wooden
What does it mean to have integrity?
This word has evolved from two ancient languages, Greek and Latin. The Greek origin of the word is adiaphthoria, defined as incorruptibility, soundness, integrity, and purity. In Latin, the adjective integer means complete. It denotes wholeness derived from qualities like honesty and consistency of character. I dragged you through this English lesson so you know the true beauty of the word. A person with integrity is solid and simply can’t be duplicitous. A person with integrity will not say one thing and do another. It’s a quality that greatly increases trust.
“The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.” ~Dwight D. Eisenhower
What is moral fiber?
This is what The Urban Dictionary has to say about it. “Moral fiber is the capacity to do what is right, no matter what the circumstance. A business person with strong moral fiber, for example, would decline a bribe, and put his self-interests aside for the benefit of the company and its shareholders. A parent with strong moral fiber does whatever it takes to help their kids succeed, even if it means they have to make sacrifices. A person with moral fiber does not do things to intentionally harm others, and when given the opportunity, does things to help the less fortunate.” I can’t think of a better definition than that. It’s a term that has fallen out of common usage and I think that tells us a lot.
How do we become our best self?
Most important, I want to convince you that these admirable character traits aren’t relegated to historical figures or outliers of mythic proportions. Indeed not! Integrity, honesty, incorruptibility, holiness, congruence and moral fiber are attainable in our lives too! We’ll need to apply constant effort, I won’t sugar coat it, but that’s true of every worthy pursuit. And, we must be honest with ourself if we want to move to a higher level of thinking. We’ve got to take a realistic look at where we are along the path right now.
Matthew Kelly is an authority on the subject of how we can become the very best possible version of the person we were created to be. It should be the single most important pursuit of our life and it is possible. In the weeks ahead, my goal is to help point you in the direction of living with your worthy values first. When you do, I assure you huge leaps of personal growth are indeed possible no matter where you begin. The important thing is simply to begin. I’m with Mr. Kelly, I believe you have infinite potential!
“It constantly amazes me that men and women wander the earth marveling at the highest mountains, the deepest ocean, the whitest sands, the most exotic islands, the most intriguing birds of the air and fish of the sea – and all the time never stop to marvel at themselves and realize their infinite potential as human beings.”~Matthew Kelly