An Art of the Question Blog
What is my destiny?
Ability may get you to the top, but it takes Character to keep you there.
– John Wooden
The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts.
He earned his living by practicing law. But he had a hobby – a passion really, for the game of golf. He began competing, mostly on a part-time basis, and quickly became the most successful amateur golfer ever to compete on a national and international level. In fact, in the seven years of his peak, he not only dominated top-level amateur competition, but also gave the pros a real run for their money, often defeating the era’s top professionals.
He is the only player ever to have won the Grand Slam, a series of four major championships which preceded the Masters.
He founded and helped design the Augusta National Golf Club, and went on to be one of the co-founders of the legendary Masters Tournament.
His friends knew him as a gentleman. We know him as an extraordinary golfer. But there is more to his story.
Bobby Jones was arguably the best amateur golfer ever to play the game. He was skilled, competitive and driven. But he was much more than that.
During the first round of the 1925 U.S. Open, held near Boston at the Worcester Country Club, he shot short into the rough on approach to the 11th hole. He eyed the shot, and as he took his stance to pitch onto the green, he accidentally brushed the ball with the head of his club, causing it to move slightly.
Jones took the shot, and then told the USGA official covering the match that he was calling a penalty on himself. His partner, Walter Hagan, argued with him. After completing the round, before signing his scorecard, the USGA officials argued with him. He listened respectfully, but quietly pointed out that he had violated Rule 18, moving a ball at rest after address.
He took a 77 instead of a 76.
Bobby lost the 1925 U.S. Open by 1 stroke. His unyielding integrity ultimately cost him the championship.
The thing is, no one knew he had brushed the ball with his club. It wasn’t intentional, it was an accident. But Bobby Jones was not only a great golfer, he was a great sportsman. Bobby Jones understood integrity.
Jones was praised by many sports writers for his gesture, to which he replied, “You may as well praise a man for not robbing a bank.”
As I write this, the news is filled with allegations of fraud exceeding $2B in Switzerland’s UBS AG. Considered as the world’s second largest manager of private wealth assets in over 40 countries, this global financial services company provides investment banking, asset management and wealth management services for private, corporate, and institutional clients all over the world. The ripples of this allegation sent shock waves through world financial markets that were already reeling from other, similar scandals from the likes of Barclay, Plc.
In a world filled with Lehman Bros, Enrons and Jimmy Swaggarts and HealthSouths and Bernie Madoffs and Jim Bakkers, integrity, purpose, and most of all, trust – seem to be archaic concepts. The interesting thing is that in all likelihood, most of these organizations employed at least some employees who were honest and trustworthy. Did they know of the trouble that was brewing in these companies? If so, did they try to do something to stop the deception? What would you do? Would you act with integrity?
An important concept in personal, emotional, spiritual or relational success is to first lay the internal foundation – a foundation of integrity. A person cannot for the long-term consistently support one area of life in which they do right and another where they do wrong.
Integrity. What is it?
We often equate integrity with honesty – which it is. But it is much more. Honesty is speaking truth. It means that whatever you’ve done, good or bad, you speak the truth about it.
Said another way, you don’t lie.
Integrity is more encompassing. It is the field in which honesty is rooted. Integrity means that you have a moral conviction, a code of honor that you adhere to. Your personal code of honor keeps you focused. It won’t allow you to do things that you feel would dishonor you.
Patrick Morley, in his book The Man In The Mirror relates that The Institute of Behavior Motivation has found that ninety-seven out of one hundred people tell lies – and they do it about one thousand times a year. Are you one of the ninety-seven?
Sometimes we make the mistake of confusing the consequences of our actions with the severity of our actions. Just because we won’t go to jail for doing some “small” wrong does not mean that it is okay to do it. Guilty is guilty. That isn’t even the point.
The point is that if we aren’t trustworthy, we aren’t trustworthy. End of story. No matter how insignificant the lie seems. The trust is broken as surely by a small deception as it is by a large one.
Jesus once told a story about a manager who was wasting the resources of his company. He summed up the story with a simple truth: anyone who can be trusted in little matters can be trusted in important matters. But anyone who is dishonest in little matters will be dishonest in important matters.
Relationships are built on trust. This is true whether the relationship is with a spouse, a business partner, a coworker, or a friend. Trust is a very fragile thing; its foundation is truth. And that foundation can be weakened and destroyed as surely by small cracks as it can by large ones.
M.H. McKee put it this way: “Integrity is one of several paths, it distinguishes itself from the others because it is the right path, and the only one upon which you will never get lost.”
Like Mark Twain once said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything!”
The Greek poet Heraclitus wrote, “The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the full light of day. The content of your character is your choice day by day, what you choose, what you think, and what you do is what you become. Your integrity is your destiny…it is the light that guides your way.”
What is your destiny shaping up to be?
Terry’s new book The Boss is available in softcover, hardback, and audiobook. For more information on The Boss, go to terrynewberry.com. Also available at Amazon.com.