Friday, October 26, 2012

Character Matters

Yesterday I made a student cry. This is not a source of pride for me. In fact, it moved me to the point of setting down my things and putting my arms around the student. This, in turn, made them cry harder. The reason? The student felt their character was being questioned.

An action had been misunderstood and instead of being angry, the response was one of concern for hurting the relationships that had been developed. What would happen to the trust and respect that had previously existed if I (and others) thought they had lied and deceived?

This is where Character Matters... Why did they care? What I was asking about had been misinterpreted, so why did it matter? It mattered because when you have Character you are focused on living your values. You operate in a way that is above question. You care about things around you and work to be honest, authentic and true.

In this world, things go wrong. Being willing to stand up, address it, fix it so that it is consistent with what you know to be right. That is Character.

I am proud of my student... And, am still working to not make people cry.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

"It wasn't my fault..."

This is Zoe. She is 8. Earlier this week she reported to us at dinner that she had her name and a check mark on the board that day at school. What came right after the share was, "It wasn't my fault..." I have been a parent for nearly 13 years. I know this song... So, I ask - "Who was at fault?" Strangely - it was the teacher, the child sitting next to her, the wind... But, she is 8. And, we are learning.

This is Jerry Sandusky. He is not 8. Today this headline appeared at the CNN homepage. And, yet the message is the same as my little charmer pictured above. In the article it stated that at his sentencing, "They did not try to extol Jerry's virtues, list good deeds or express regret. Instead, they depicted the boys he sexually assaulted as ungrateful and called them liars. They blamed the young men... for their downfall."  (Full article)

So, today's question - When is it your fault? When are you responsible?

Perhaps I have lived enough life to have made so many mistakes, errors, bad decisions that the ability to own what I have done no longer brings me to my knees. Maybe. Or, perhaps I know that when I have done something wrong, I am the most pure version of me when I express those simple words that take ownership for my actions. My mistakes do not define me or my value. They are a part of what I've done - and learning from them makes me better.

Be real. Be true. Be someone who never, ever, leads with "It wasn't my fault" when all of those around know. Take ownership of who you are, what you've done, what you stand for. Respect will follow. I promise.