In the more than 15 years I’ve been navigating the choppy seas of the business world, I’ve learned a lot of things: be a team player, stay positive, don’t react, embrace change – the list goes on. It’s all important, but it’s honesty and integrity that separate true professionals from the rest of the crowd. Asking for forgiveness rather than permission may show bold and gritty confidence and a sense of dashing fearlessness, but it’s a barrier to true leadership, not to mention your own professional growth.
The best leaders work well with others, they lead by example, and (above all) they make ethical decisions. They don’t try to sneak around to get what they want, or play the odds hoping they won’t get caught. They communicate effectively up front, engaging in open dialogue that shows a willingness to compromise on their objectives, not on their values.
When we bring our values to work and life each day, we set a foundation that develops genuine integrity and enhances our character. Deep down inside, we all know right from wrong. It’s a simple choice, and chances are, if you have even the slightest inkling that a choice you’re about to make might not be the right one, you’re probably spot on. So, take a beat, and breathe. Breathe again, and think hard. You always have a moment to step back and choose to do the right thing. As a great Yoga teacher of mine once said, “do good and be good.” It’s really that simple.
Will we make mistakes sometimes? Sure. In fact, I’ve learned more from the mistakes I’ve made than from the successes I’ve encountered. These mishaps along the way have made me a better person, business professional, leader, and even a better parent. It’s those challenges and roadblocks that help shape our next steps, the ones that feel truer and more real each day. Sometimes you just have to reach deep inside to search for the right choice. You’ll know it when you see it, and you’ll be better for it when you embrace it.
A truly fearless leader is the one who isn’t afraid to do the right thing. So, if D.L. Moody tells us “character is what you are in the dark,” then go ahead and turn out the lights. Don’t be scared. Look inside, and choose to do good and be good. You can start right now, and when you turn the lights back on again, the path will be clear on the road ahead. You’ll pave the way for your success, and the success of those around you who are willing to come along for the ride.