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Ariane de Bonvoisin - Founder and Chief Change Optimist
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Monday, July 27, 2009

Character Is Our Bailout

I've known Gary King for over 15 years and I can say he is one of the wisest, kindest human beings I know. He also has a transformative message for the world right now. He is a world-class speaker on the subjects of honesty, forgiveness, self-esteem and character. I've invited him to share a preview of his upcoming book with us. This is never before been seen in writing so enjoy! His message is so timely I made him do this!

For more information on Gary and his work, please visit his site.

Character Is Our Bailout

If you watch the news or read the newspaper you will be very aware of the current Buzz word, "Bailout." It appears in print constantly and is repeated on news broadcasts every minute worldwide. Bailout, Bailout, Bailout! Enough already!

My personal experience with bailout goes back to when I was 16 years old and a high-school senior. My Friday night routine was to hang out with my two older friends and cruise around in a shiny red 59 Chevy convertible. One of those nights my two friends decided that it would be cool and adventurous to drive in the exit of a “dollar-a-carload” drive-in movie theatre to avoid a single extra dollar payment. My feeling was, "this could be trouble," but as peer pressure goes, I kept my mouth shut. Much to our surprise, as soon as we entered the theatre, a county sheriff stepped out of the bushes, shined a flashlight in our eyes and proceeded to inform us we were under arrest for trespassing. We were handcuffed, put in a paddy wagon, and hauled off to the county jail with instructions that we were to be jailed until Monday morning and then appear in court. The only other option was a bailout.

I promptly called my father who was a recognized local business man employed by the city. I told him what happened and explained the bail was $100.00. He said, "I’m not bailing you out," and hung up the phone. Although at the time this seamed harsh and unreasonable treatment by my own father, I learned a very valuable lesson about taking responsibility for my actions and owning the consequences. Unfortunately, my Dad passed away in 1968 and I never had a chance to share with him how grateful I was for the lesson he bestowed upon me.

If on that Friday night, I would have had a more defined strength of character, I would have just simply said, "drop me off right outside the theatre. I will fend for myself." At that point, bailout would not have been a necessity or choice.

I feel an obvious psychological dynamic at play with the idea of bailouts, rewarding bad or criminal behavior, which promotes negative behavior. Personal character is typically defined as showing high moral and ethical qualities. Character takes in such personal traits as high self-worth, honesty, integrity, forgiveness and gratitude just to name a few.

It appears that we have become a society of situational ethics and integrity. Being honest and ethical is no longer a predetermination for public life. Ethics seem to be decisions made in the moment based on the potential upside or downside of any given situation. Narcissism is the new substitute behavior and indifference is the by-product. Low self-worth is alive and thriving with unhealthy consequences. I believe very few people realize that behavior compounds just like money earning compound interest. Yesterday’s behavior becomes the foundation for tomorrow’s behavior.

As a speaker and author, I travel internationally speaking on honesty, integrity, self-worth and forgiveness. My career path is a result of a near-death experience in the mid-1980s. I grew up with no self-worth and strived to be accepted and loved. I very much lived a situational life until my near-death experience. At that point I had a massive shift in consciousness and paid very close attention to everything I thought and did, especially in regard to every word that came out of my mouth.

Self-worth gets reinforced by everyday life and typically can produce some very unhealthy behavior, especially during early childhood. For example, I grew up thinking I was ugly. My best friend used to call me, "Mole," based on a birthmark on my left cheek. He only had to call me that once before I developed an ugly complex!

I routinely speak to groups of woman who claim they continuously look in the mirror to see what in their appearances is wrong or needs improvement. When I ask what happens if they look in a full length mirror naked, there is painful silence. Well, this is a tough problem to solve. And, the solution I offer can be as simple as a decision to look beautiful and radiant, not to get plastic surgery. The point I try to make is to stop looking for what is wrong. There is no perfect breast size, body shape and size. Start looking for what is right.

As young adults, we grow up believing in and striving toward financial success, a great relationship and optimum health. Along the way, we develop beliefs, and they shape our destiny. One of those beliefs can turn out to encourage the act of lying to produce additional financial gain. When a belief in lying becomes ingrained, lying becomes routine. If that happens, lying can spill over into the way we behave in relationships.

People continue to challenge the thought of being honest all the time, not just when it is convenient. They embrace the thought that they are honest even though they tell white lies, withhold the truth, lie to themselves, steal from their employers, have affairs, lie to their children, for their children and in front of their children. It is almost as if they think there is such a thing as being half pregnant. Remember, there is no such thing as an inconsequential Lie, they all count as Lies. And, all lies produce guilt. Guilt can cause addiction to everything imaginable from sex to drugs, crime, alcohol, and all forms of debt. As a result, now your precious health can be extremely compromised as well.

It is amazing how many people attempt to have healthy love relationships when in reality they have not forgiven their last partner, parents, friends and employers. Forgiving yourself and others, all the time, not just when it is convenient is a critical part of your character. I have been doing forgiveness research during my speaking engagements in the form of a statement designed for audience response. What I do is this. My sense is that everyone in the room has someone to forgive including yourself. I ask that if my statement is not accurate for you, please raise your hand. In the two years I have made the statement to thousands of people, only seven people have raised their hands.
People tend to believe that forgiveness is the same as sanctioning another person's bad behavior and letting them off the hook, or that that person is not personally worthy of forgiving him/herself. On the contrary, forgiveness is a gift to self because we are worthy.

Personal character or lack thereof can also affect our culture. As I stated earlier, indifference appears to have become an epidemic. Situational ethics and integrity have taken a foothold everywhere.

Indifference has a rather simple starting point. Take these two examples. Imagine you are traveling on the interstate highway at the posted speed limit, from behind comes someone traveling approximately 20 miles per hour over the posted speed limit and he or she looks over at you like you are ignorant and are a nuisance. You are standing in a line to board a flight, the person in front of you is talking on a cell phone and continues to talk as he or she passes the check in person, then walks down the jet way onto the flight passing by the flight attendant, still on the cell phone, then attempts to load hand carry in the overhead, still on the cell phone, the aircraft door closes, the flight attendant asks the person to please shut off the phone, the person talks until the flight attendant asks a second time only to get a rude response from the passenger.

These are just two simple examples of everyday indifference to values, rules of law, authority and pure common sense and personal courtesy. There are literally thousands of these situations talking place every hour of every day.

Now let’s look at some far more serious issues of indifference. In the world of professional sports, it is almost a daily occurrence that the media releases a story concerning a major sports personality who is pushing the envelope of honesty, winning at any price by some form of cheating, and worse yet, attempting to lie his way out of the situation rather than taking responsibility for his actions.

Of course, in the corporate world we find many cases where the standard operating procedure is lying as an accepted behavior, and worse, as expected behavior. As I mentioned earlier, greed appears to be a by-product of capitalism and the average business model is "anything goes as long as we make a profit." And, as if those examples are not harsh enough, loyal employees even get terminated via e-mail.

Now for indifference at the highest level concerning elected leaders and public officials. When a president dismisses unethical or immoral conduct, when a governor knowingly delivers one message and lives a completely different lifestyle, when a senator or member of congress operates with clear personal gain in mind, everyone is affected. The message becomes very clear: The country's leadership approves of indifference. The result is no universally practiced ethics or morals. Indifference becomes a way of life which leads to a deterioration of personal character, morals and values and seriously compromises our culture.

How can you be part of the change?

Our teenagers are our future leaders, Do you realize that the national statistic for cheating in middle school, high school and college falls between 63% to 90%? Have you ever stopped to think about the number of bright yellow school buses that exist in the United States? There are actually 440,000 school buses in our country. Have you ever noticed that almost all school buses have one thing written down the side in large black letters? It's the name of the school district they serve. Do you realize that if a school bus had large black letters saying ”Real Winners Never Cheat” down the side of the bus, behavior would change as a result? (www.SchoolBusSolutions.com)

Do you know someone on a school board? Are you a teacher?

There are three decisions that will reshape your life forever and create the potential for health, wealth and happiness. These are decisions not work projects:
1. Live an authentic life. Be honest all the time not just when it's easy.
2. Look in the mirror and like what you see. Try it. You will be amazed what happens over time.
3. Forgive yourself and others always. It's a gift for you because you deserve it.

And, check in with yourself by taking the "24-Hour Truth Challenge." Commit to being honest and authentic for 24 straight hours, to yourself and everyone else. You will become very aware of your personal behavior especially if you are struggling after two hours of your truth challenge. You will also notice an internal feeling of freedom and inner strength based on being authentic.

There is nothing more important than your character. Character is truly our Bailout.

JenniferLeeMiller

What a great article and very true. I like to talk about Character being eveyrthing in life to all my family and friends. You know when you pass on from this world to the next, your character is the ONLY THING you take with you. That is pretty important, don't you think?! They say that you can change the world with one act of kindness. I truly believe that if I could inspire one person to think about his/her character when making any and every decision in his/her life....then I have changed the world for the better. Pass this message on to everyone you know. It is definitely worth sharing. Thanks! :-)