The Often Dismissed Importance of Self Standards

This morning as I parked in front of the house upon returning from a Top-Pot donut run, I noticed something that I so wish I had captured on video: integrity and doing the right thing at its finest.

Standing on my neighbor’s sidewalk, bent at the waist, staring at the grass stood a different neighbor (TS) from a few blocks over (I know he lives a few blocks away because he’s our friend.) Behind him two leashed dogs sat, waiting.

He looked and looked. Stood up, scratched his head, then looked some more. He absolutely couldn’t find what he was looking for. I just watched while gathering my delectables before getting out of the car and heading into the house. It was such a sweet moment, I didn’t want to break it with a Hey-there friend.

Up a little distance ahead an older gentleman walked another leashed dog. TS called out to him. So, he stopped, turned around with the other dog in tow and made is way back to where TS was treasure-hunting. It didn’t take long before the older man was at TS’s side, bending down, searching the grass while the dogs looked on, bored to high heaven. Of course they had no clue that the search was for something one of them had left behind.

By this time TS is literally on his hands and knees (I’m not joking!) inspecting the grass while his companion (I’m guessing father-in-law or dad) leans over doing the same. It was as if they were looking for some money or a set of keys or something of great value that had been dropped. When in reality, they were just looking for a pile of poop.

I can’t tell you how many times we have stepped in a dog’s deposit in our yard –and we don’t have a dog. It drives Jon crazy – partly because its gross, mostly because its rude and, well – sort of thoughtless. Not taking into consideration the people that either live at the house or will come along behind, leaving a pile for someone else to handle, is so it’s-my-world-you’re-lucky-to-be-in-it thinking.

Walking in the house, I told one of my daughters about it. Her response? “I love how it mattered.”

“What difference does it make,” her brother asked. “I mean if you can’t find it, at least you tried.”

“It’s not about that,” she thought out loud. “It’s about doing the right thing.”

“Yes,” I added. “Thinking about the people who will be walking behind you – putting them ahead of yourself. I think I would have been embarrassed looking in the grass on my hands and knees. And those were grown men”

“Mr. S is the coolest,” my daughter concluded, letting the goodness sink in.

Doing the right thing –  not so someone else might see, but to consider the person walking along after who will likely never see.

Integrity and personal-standards have been the hot topic around here of late. It think it might have started with someone who claimed they brushed their teeth but didn’t. And let’s just say, it was easy to know the teeth that have not been brushed. So upon sending stinky-breath to find some toothpaste I couldn’t help but opine:

“Your integrity has so much more value than any ease of life temporarily accomplished by lying. Do you realize that you’re literally sacrificing something of great worth when you lie or cheat or cut corners? And I don’t care what it is – but especially something a small as brushing your teeth – is NOT worth sacrificing your integrity.”

I think in today’s fast-paced world, we easily cut-corners, spin truth, say what we want, and justify. In the process, lose sight of integrity’s value, depth and critical importance to our deepest well-being. A little bit of ourselves is either lost or redefined each time integrity or self-standards are pushed aside. Why not herald instead: telling the truth (always), obeying the law (even those no one obeys), staying the course, following through, finishing well.

I recently bumped into an example of this while deleting some of the massive amount of recordings on our DVR. I bumped into the clip & wondered why we would have recorded the CBS Evening News – until I watched and remembered why. It’s a story about Rozetia Ellis, a contract worker at a bridal boutique that had declared bankruptcy.

After losing her job, Rozetia went to work (FOR FREE!) altering gowns, completing the work that had been promised to customers – wedding gowns. Really, does anything need to be said about all the emotion, the hopes, the dreams sewn into the seams of those garments – almost more than any other?! Imagine having finally made a decision on that all-important dress, dates are set, plans are finalized – and the boutique calls with an I’m sorry, you’ll have to find and pay for another. Not if Rozetia’s name is involved.

“You don’t have to do this,” the interviewer said to Rozetia.

“I do,” she insisted.

“Says who?”

“Me,” Rozetia firmly replies. “My integrity says I have to. When you have standards for yourself, you live up to those standards.“

My integrity says I have to. Beautiful. An inspiring and terrific reminder that the high road offers more than a steep climb – it reveals some stunning scenery.

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