What Do You Do When Nobody’s Watching?
“The true test of a man's character is what he does when no one is watching.” This is a quote I heard years ago and it has stuck with me as I’ve stepped into athletics, business, marriage, and fatherhood. We live in a society where we use the tiny computer in our pockets to broadcast the highlights of our lives to everyone else. We like to show off the good we do, the people we’ve helped, the homes we’ve built, and the success we’ve achieved. It’s easy to be good and do the right thing when everyone is watching. But what about when nobody’s watching…?
Accountability means making the right choice even when you could have gotten away with making the wrong one. For example…
I had a friend tell me a story once about how she was grocery shopping with her two young boys. Once she loaded all of the groceries into her car and buckled in her toddler and her baby, she realized some of the items at the bottom of her cart didn’t get scanned. She didn’t pay for them. She knew it would be a hassle to unbuckle both kids, get them back into the store, wait in line, and pay for the items, and for a second considered just loading the unpaid items into her car and heading home. Nobody would have known. Nobody was watching.
But she knew it was an important lesson to teach her kids. So she unbuckled them, pushed the cart back into the store, waited in line, paid for the items, and left. She explained to her kids that even though nobody would have known, taking back the items was the right thing to do. “We don’t decide to make the right decision based on who’s watching,” she told them, “We make the right decision because being accountable builds our character, and we’re the ones that have to live with our character”
So whether it’s a small act of accountability like this one, or it’s you stepping up and taking responsibility for a big mistake at work, you’re responsible for owning up to your mistakes. Even when you don’t think anyone is watching.
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