Zayd and I were running errands to set up for a pre-prom photo opp with his friends at our house yesterday evening; just the two of us in the car, and no possible escape, so I took the chance to ask him what wisdom from an elder he keeps close to mind.
After a bit of fussing and oh mom-ing, he tells me it’s something his father says to him. Here’s how he explained it to me:
“Pa always says, ‘The most important thing you have is your character and integrity; no one can take that away from you. That’s who you are. It’s what makes you, you. Without that personal core, you don’t really have a home base for yourself. Every decision you make needs to be guided by that overarching thought.”
“The right thing to do is not necessarily something that comes naturally, it’s something you have to work on. Sometimes it’s far easier to tell a lie than to be honest; you have to engineer being honest because that’s the right thing to do.”
“Pa said think of it like creating your ‘personal brand’; every decision adds or takes away from that personal brand. You want to make sure that everything you do ensures that you have a personal brand that people respect and value.”
I asked Zayd when his dad told him this. “Whenever I get into trouble,” he says; “it’s usually for doing something stupid, and Pa always brings up integrity and character and reputation.”
Is it sticking, I ask him.
“I think so.”
Day 16 Wisdom 16: Integrity and character, that’s all you have.