"It is with great honor that we choose to do the right thing, even when doing the wrong thing would be far easier." — Jonas Cain
How are you choosing to live with honor?
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One of my favorite moments happened during my senior year in high school. I was a member of the Audio Visual Club and we were tasked with such fun things as setting up the sound system and lights for various public events that were held at our school—such as dance recitals, town meetings, plays, and the like.
What was so fun about this is it meant we were literally given the keys to places within the school not available to other students. Places like the lighting booth above the auditorium, the catwalk where all the spotlights were, and even a secret supply closet nestled in the ceiling of the band room. It was that secret closet that would lead to one of my favorite memories from high school, even though it wasn't a very positive experience at the time.
You see, even though we had access to that closet, the club advisor, Mr. Bussell, told us that we have no reason to go up there. In other words: Off Limits! But did we listen? Of course we did! At least, for a little while. But then one day our curiosity got the best of us and we ventured up there to explore its secrets!
We hinged the ladder down and climbed up. There really wasn't anything exciting up there. Just random random lighting supplies and audio cables. The fun part was just being up there where we weren't supposed to be! But then something most unfortunate happened.
As we descended the ladder, the metal mechanics bent in a way that it wasn't supposed to and we couldn't get the ladder back up! How were we supposed to hide that fact that we had been up there if we couldn't put the ladder back up?!
As we all panicked about how to get out of this mess I thought of the only logical solution: Fess up!
They all hated that idea because none of them wanted to be the one to tell Mr. Bussell. But in rare form, I volunteered to be the one to tell him.
Here's why this was so significant: As a child I was exceedingly shy. I was afraid to talk to anyone, let alone someone who would have reason to reprimand me. But as I grew older I also grew more confident, and this confidence culminated that day 19 years ago when I marched into Mr. Bussell's office, with my friends cowering behind me, and I told him about the ladder we had broken. And when he barked back, "But you're not supposed to be up there!" I simply replied, "Exactly, and we're sorry."
It requires a certain measure of honor to do the right thing even when doing the wrong thing would be far easier, and stepping up to take responsibility for my actions that day has become one of my favorite memories from high school, and one that I carry with me to this day as a worthy reminder of this lesson. I often think of this story anytime I'm preparing to make a tough decision, and when I do it always makes doing the honorable thing far easier.
What's your story of honor? And how does it encourage you to do what's right?
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Jonas Cain facilitates positive change initiatives for emerging leaders and their influencers.