If you have been watching the news lately concerning the Jan. 6 hearings — which I hope you haven’t watched too much — you are aware that issues such as credibility, integrity, character and principles are on display for the American people to decide what’s true and what’s not.
This idea of a person’s character and whether they are believable is based on what they say backed up by what they do. If a person is to be considered credible, their words must be met with action, otherwise their words mean nothing.
Think about the people you trust and admire. Do you have them in mind? They are more than likely people who back up what they say with exertion.
In exploring this idea of a person’s character and trustworthiness, I asked a group of my managerial staff a while back, “if you could have any superpower, what would you choose?”
Several staff said “invisibility.”
Their answers got me thinking about something I recalled from a graduate philosophy class.
In Plato’s “Republic, Book Two” he mentions the Ring of Gyges. The ring grants the wearer the power of invisibility at will. Plato mentions it in his book because he is dialoguing about character and morality.
I also learned from this same graduate course that the ethical standards that we live by are the standards we adhere to and hopefully practice. If we violate those ethical principles, we feel bad, and rightly so.
Morality is living and putting those ethical principles into action. For Plato, the basic question he seeks to answer is this: Is anyone so virtuous that he or she would not do things if the fear of any sort of detection was removed?
In other words, would you use the superpower of invisibility to do good or would you do something immoral?
Now, think about that for a moment before you answer. You could do literally anything you wanted without detection. You could get away with stealing, you could get away getting back at someone who has wronged you or anything else you wanted. Plato is implying, if you had this superpower this would reveal the character of who you really are.
Would you use the power for good or for something not so good?
Some have said that this is where J.R.R. Tolkien got his idea for the Lord of the Rings. Could be. I don’t know for sure.
Think about people you have admired or do admire. More than likely what you admired about them was the fact they were — or are — persons of principle. You admired them because they stood for something. When people are asked who they admire it's usually the same answer: someone who did something or stood for something beyond their own needs and wants. Someone who did the right thing even though they didn’t have to.
Regardless of which side you are on in the debate concerning the Jan. 6 hearings, I challenge you to listen and look for matters of character, morality and integrity. Whoever is talking or who they are talking about — look for integrity, or character, or both. Is the person they are talking about, or the person talking, a person of integrity?
What would you do if you had the ring from Lord of the Rings? Are the things you say backed up by the person you are? Is the person you are backed up by your actions? Do you do the right thing even if no one is watching? I’m not talking here about not coming to a full stop at a stop sign even when there are no cars around, because that really has nothing to do with character. Not stopping has more to do with how big of a hurry you are in.
I’m talking about your actions matching your words. If you want to be considered a person of integrity, a person who others admire, back up what you say with your actions. Do the right thing, even if you don’t have to.
Listen, we all have fallen short at times, but you can determine right now, today, to be a person of principle and character.
You will feel better and others will admire you for it.
Richard Stride is the current CEO of Cascade Community Healthcare. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.