Read, Run, Repeat

A tale of fitness, books, food, and life in between

Character is a Choice

on May 24, 2013

Last Friday, I attended a training from the CEO of the magazine Exceptional Parent, Joe Valenzano. It was the second time that I had the privilige of hearing him speak. This is a man who has done great things for people with disabilities — he dreamed up the idea of Disability Awareness Night for the NY yankees after they had a lawsuit due to unfair treatment of a person with a special need – now all the MLB teams participate and hold their own D.A.N – and that’s just one of the amazing things he’s done 🙂

Anyway – the last part of the seminar was about character, integrity and leadership — the first part if the story included the story/orgin of the word “integrity” and it went a little something like this:

The word intergrity comes from the lating “integritas” which means “wholeness” or “completeness.”  Way back in time, during the reign of the Caesars, the roman army (legionnaires) would have morning inspections, and the leader would stand in front of each soldier, and he would strike his breastplate with his fist, saying “integritas!” The leader would listen for the ring of well-kept armour, as well as the soldier’s oath – to his nation and tomaintaining his character during his duties.

During the same time period, the “Praetorians” were coming into power, and their soldiers were typically well-off, and they had the best armour and equipment. They did not have to strike their breastplate to signfy that their armor was in good condition, and instead they would yell “Hail Caesar” – proclaiming their allegience to a single person and his desires instead of the unit, nation, and code of character.

Time passed, and the armies continues to battle one another. To signifiy the difference between the Legionnaire army and the Praetorians, the Leggionaire would use the word “Integer” when they struck their breastplate. Integer = wholeness, completeness, perfect, and it signified the the heart of the soldier was in the right place – that his character was sound and his morals high (as opposed to the immoral conduct of the Praetorian soldiers).

The word integrity is a combination of integritas and integer. Therefore, integrity = a wholeness in character

*information taken/paraphrased from Joe’s talk, as well as the websites: http://www.amc.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123173398, http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/integrity/, http://isme.tamu.edu/JSCOPE00/Krulak00.html

I thought the story was pretty interesting – this coming from a person who doesn’t really love “historical stuff” One of the phrases that Joe used was “Character is a choice.” That phrase really struck a chord with me – so much that I wrote it down in my phone immediately.

We have the ability to be anyone that we want. We can make ourselves into anything we want to be. Many quotes indicate that “character is what you do when no one is looking” — I think that is so very true. I like to think of myself as a person of good character – who wouldn’t? But thinking about character over the last few days, I’ve realized that there have been many a time when I’ve done something looking for accolades, praise, or recognition. I actually tend do that a lot – who doesnt like positive reinforcement? But,  that’s not necessarily being a person of good character. Too many times, I think, actions are no longer performed just because it’s “the right thing to do” — everyone seems to be focused on “what’s in it for me” – merely an allegience to themselves. That’s so sad. What an egotistical people we have become….

What would the world look like if everyone decided to operate from a place of integrity and character? Can you imagine? What if we all adhered to code of conduct that stuck to high morals, and people did thing because it was the right thing to do…. because of the way it made them feel, and because of how it positively affected other people.

What if we all just took the high road all the time?

Talents are something that we are born with – an innate gift that we are given – but character is something that we have to build and really work on.  Our character is our choice…

Who will you choose to be today?

Question: What do you think it means to be a person of “good character”?

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