I am often asked where I get the inspiration and ideas for my column. I find ideas, subjects and inspiration all around me. Like the late and former catcher for the New York Yankees Yogi Berra said, “It’s amazing what you can see when you look.”
Yesterday, I was in church, and one of the singers was wearing a T-shirt that said, “Be known for what you’re for.” It sent my mind spinning into hyper-drive.
The world is packed full of people telling you what is bad or wrong. Critics abound and everyone has an opinion. Usually, that opinion is negative and only a criticism of the other persons criticism. Listen to the words of the talking heads on TV and you will believe the end of the world is near. They’ll all tell you what is wrong and what an idiotic, racist, misogynistic, Nazi the other guy is. And its amazing that any public figure they do not like is Hitler. Both sides are guilty.
We know what most people are against … but what are they for?
My grandfather had an old saying he would repeat to me as a child. “If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.” I used to think it was a silly phrase, but as an adult I’ve learned the deep and profound truth found in those words. Do you have a set of guiding principles you can articulate? Do you know what you are for?
As a young businessman, I read a book titled “The West Point Way of Leadership.” In the book it says the first principle you learn as a Cadet is …
“I do not lie, cheat or steal and do not tolerate those who do.” – West Point Way of Leadership
I was mesmerized by the phrase, but realized it may work as stated for a military school, but I had to exchange a word to make it fit my needs. I started adopting it into my daily practice by changing the word tolerate into the word associate. So, my first guiding principle that I consciously stood for and still do is. “I do not lie, cheat or steal and do not associate with those who do.” Does it make me perfect? No. Far from it, but it makes me better than I would be without it. I am still a work in progress, but it is one of the principles that guide me. What else guides me? I am for faith, family and country and I realize that makes some people roll their eyes and think of me as old school … and If that’s what it makes me, so be it. I am for optimism and serving as a positive example for others.
In the classic baseball film "Bull Durham," Annie, played by Susan Sarandon, asks “Crash Davis,” played by Kevin Costner, what he believes in. Without hesitation he responds (with a small edit for polite company) …
“Well, I believe in the soul, the small of a woman’s back, the hanging curve ball, high fiber, good scotch … I believe that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent overrated crap. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I think there should be a constitutional amendment outlawing AstroTurf and the designated hitter. I believe in the sweet spot … opening your presents on Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve and I believe in long, slow, wet kisses that last for three days.” – Crash Davis
What’s the point? He knew immediately when asked, what he is for. Do you?
So, the question is … what are you for? Do you have a set of guiding principles you can articulate without having to think about it? The power … the real power in life is standing for something you believe in. When you know where you stand and what you are for, the path to achievement and a better life clarifies before your eyes. If you are for something, you can help get it done. If you are against something, the best you can be is an obstructionist, and yes, there are things in life we should be against, but not everything.
A set of guiding principles serve as both an anchor and safe harbor in a storm, as well as a guiding compass when moving forward.
Like the T-Shirt, I want to be known for what I am for.
How about you?