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Doing your Duty with Honor

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to gain even more respect. Reading time: 3:54

       You’re a cop. You pull over a speeding vehicle down a busy street.

       honorYou approach the driver and realize your speeder is Ulysses S. Grant –the sitting President of the United States.

      All alone. No Secret Service. No political aides. No newspaper reporters. What would you do?

      The Officer did his duty.

      He impounded Grant’s horse and buggy and forced the President of the United States — to walk four blocks home to The White House.

         President Grant—then still a very popular Civil War Hero less than a decade after accepting General Robert E. Lee’s surrender– didn’t try to pull rank on the young officer. No matter how much more convenient and expedient for both of them.

         And the officer didn’t question his own authority to enforce the law against the President. No matter how much more comforting and face-saving for both of them. After all, it was only a traffic infraction.  Not exactly the crime of the century.

      Yet both the President and the Officer acted Honorably.

     They didn’t just obey the law. They honored it. They respected it. They revered it. They paid homage to it.  They did the right thing to protect it.  No matter how personally embarrassing. No matter how professionally compromising.  No matter who was –or wasn’t looking.

      HONOR ROLLON THEIR HONOR, the President and the Officer preserved the notion that no man is above the law. They honored each other’s professional duty and personal principles. They validated each other’s rights and responsibilities.

     ON THEIR HONOR, the President and the Officer embraced the notion their encounter —on an-all-but deserted street, late at night, with few if any witnesses —was a matter of honor more than just a matter of law.

     ON THEIR HONOR, the President and the Officer defended their personal reputations as if their beliefs, their values, their honor hinged upon the honor, heritage and history of their respective organizations: the Federal Government and the Local Police.

     ON THEIR HONOR, the President and the Officer fought to protect the essence of their personal honor with as much vigor as those who dueled in the 1800s and defended their family reputations on turf that significantly came to be known as Fields of Honor.

     ON THEIR HONOR, the President and the Officer affirmed the commitment of the most effective leaders to honor the achievements of others with honors like these: 

Awarding  a Medal of Honor,
Conferring an Honorary Degree,
Granting an Honor Guard,
Approving an Honor Code,
Certifying an Honor Roll, and
Introducing the Guest of Honor etc.

      Some leaders even brand themselves with their allegiance to honor. They wear an Honor Ring as a constant reminder and driver of their leadership premise, promise and purpose.

Honor Rings

       For 50 years, General Sam Houston wore his Honor Ring – a gold ring inscribed with the word “Honor.”

Sam Houston's Honor Ring

Sam Houston’s Honor Ring

       In doing the honors, General Houston fought for what he believed in, for what he lived for, for what he would die for –his honor.

      Brandishing his Honor Ring, General Houston avenged the loss at The Alamo when the Texans were vastly outnumbered (50-1) and eventually led Texas to statehood.

      Six weeks later, General Houston and his Texans were still outnumbered (2.5-1) yet defeated the Mexican army at the Battle of San Jacinto.

      General Houston’s Honor Ring must have been blazing the way his 750 troops overwhelmed 1800 Mexican soldiers.

      The  Texans killed 630 soldiers and wounded or captured 730, including General Santa Anna while suffering 70 times fewer fatalities and 24 times fewer wounded or captured. The Texans tallied nine soldiers killed and 30 wounded.

 Love and Honor

     Today Honor Rings are prevalent where leadership is fostered, where standards are upheld, where responsible behavior is championed:

        In families “Honor your father and mother….” commands the Bible.
        In marriage, husbands and wives exchange vows to “Love and Honor” each other.
        In the armed forces, soldiers are buried with “full military Honors.”

    So the next time you’re leading a group and find yourself saying “It’s an honor to be here,” stop and reflect how influential your insight, how prescient your words, how probative your thought. After all, as a leader, you always have the honors.

    On or off the golf course.

Today’s ImproveMINT

Sharpen your honor to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.

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