Often construed by the world as the same thing, those who hold Authentic Honor know that Fear, Respect, and Honor are very different. And in that difference lay all the power. Indeed, living with Authentic Honor provides us the power to live life to its utmost. It is an anchor upon which we can hold fast, and weather any storm. It is a strong foundation upon which we can stand and look anyone straight in the eye. It is the power to recognize and pursue ones calling and purpose. It provides the traction to grip and defend our freedom. With Authentic Honor we are free to act, free to love and laugh, free to become our best self.
Under the banner of Honor people duel to the death, commit hari-kari, raise societies to their apex, and stand watch over the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Under the banner of Honor people murder those who are "dishonored", or dive to cover a grenade.
Honor killings, and Honor Guard? Taking a life, or giving one’s life? How could anyone use the same word
Honor for such disparate actions?
There is nothing more potent to move a person to action than a risk to their Honor. The Soul’s fear that Honor might be lost clinches tightly the fist of the heart. Holding fast and shoring the core where Honor resides. For the Soul, Honor is the treasure of greatest worth. For through Honor are all the Soul’s actions made purposeful, free, and true. Without Honor the Soul loses vitality, will, force, and foundation. Without its Honor, the Soul loses its authority to declare ones personal sovereignty, and proclaim the strength of ones volition.
When that Honor is at risk, the Soul calls out to the mind, bone, muscle, and sinews to make haste or all is lost. The tangible body responds with vigor, but only in response to the urgency suffered, not really knowing the reason. The Soul can only convey to the mind importance, but not direction. The mind searches for the cause of his discomfort. The mind searches for meaning to his distress. And when the mind thinks it found the cause of his agony, the person then acts. They act in a manner commensurate with the level of urgency the Soul roars.
The world wants that power at their disposal. They want the ability to direct the anguish of others in order to conquer. They know that if they can create risk to another’s Honor, they can prompt the souls objection. If they can give deceitful meaning to the agony that results, they can channel that agony to command armies to run themselves through with their own plowshares.
Throughout history the term
Honor has been purposefully usurped, misrepresented, and bastardized to the advantage of others.
They arrogate the word Honor. They describe
Honor as not something intrinsic (originating in the individual), but as something extrinsic. The world will say that Honor is something that they can be bestow and withhold. They want us to conflate their Respect with our Honor. And in so doing make us beholden to them. The Honor of Man and Authentic Honor are not the same thing.
Our gut tells is there is something of immense worth and impact in Honor. But our brain, in general, has no clue. We feel it, but we just don't get it. Our endeavor is to understand the nature of Honor, to become more honorable ourselves. To distinguish the "signal from the noise" in regards to Fear, Respect, and Honor. Believing that knowing the difference is the key to leveraging all three. We want to make the biggest positive impact in our lives, the lives of our Family and Friends, and if we get it right, the world. We believe that holding Authentic Honor is the key.
The Honor of Man is to receive respect, praise, esteem, and admiration. Be that demanded, or bestowed. The Honor of Man is bestowed only when someone does when one does something "of worth". Without it's bestowal, one has no respect. The Honor of Man is extrinsic. Respect can only come from another person who declares value to what was done. And in turn only gives credit to the person who preformed it. Where there is no witness to the act, there are none to bestow respect upon those who acted.
When one does something that is not desired by another, they will tell you that you have dishonored the family, the king, the code, the what have you. They will tell you that you have
lost face, are
unworthy. They will yell,
for shame! They will shun you, and tell everyone to do likewise. They will ostracize you until you
toe the line. They will demand reparation and contrition. And then claim only they define the steps towards remediation of the error. And if you do not acquiesce, you are judged "ruined", "dishonored", "dammed". They claim the seat of final judgment as their own, where in fact, only Gods belong.
Respect is extrinsic, relying on an external party to give it to you. They can give it and take it away at their whim. If you feel Respect is important, you will always be beholden to those who give it to you, and victimized by those who don't.
The powerful know the hunger of each of us to love and be loved. They know that respect is easily confused with love. For respect means you made an impact on someone, or they made an impact on you. You mattered. Everyone wants to matter to someone.
Honor of Manwith Authentic Honor.
Authentic Honor is not the "Honor of Man".
Authentic Honor has a definition imprinted on our hearts; clear, indelible and powerful. Yet when we try to define Authentic Honor, it falls into the same category as
things that are difficult to be described, but powerfully felt. Though it may be difficult to put into words what Authentic Honor is, we can definitely see the effect of those that hold it. They can look anyone in the eye. They can respond quickly, without equivocation. They welcome a challenge. They take feedback without taking offence. They acknowledge their own shortcomings, and are open to learning. They are empathetic, but never a victim. They have an abundance mentality. They can give away everything and not feel the lesser. They are gracious and grateful. They celebrate the success of others. And are not demeaned by failures of their own.
Authentic Honor is this: Moral authority to declare personal sovereignty, to declare the legitimacy of ones volition.
Authentic Honor is entirely different from Respect. At its core, Authentic Honor is Respect’s polar opposite. Authentic Honor is about personal sovereignty and volition, not power, praise, or credit. It is intrinsic. None can bestow it, none can take it away. Authentic Honor can only be abandoned. No man can demand it from you, nor can they diminish it. It is yours, let no one put asunder.
Authentic Honor is not created by good action. In fact, it is by Authentic Honor that all good action done. Authentic Honor is being able to stand where you are, even when you are alone, when none have your back. Authentic Honor allows you to do as you feel right, with no external permission or direction required. Honor is free decision uncolored by fallacy or self-deception. Honor is to act, not be acted upon.
To Honor someone is different than respecting someone. To Honor someone is to unconditionally love someone. To respect someone is to recognize his or her positive (or negative) impact on ones life. To Honor someone is to love them regardless of their actions.
You may think,
No, for me, Honor and Respect are both very important! I respect, and honor, my fellow men.
And you are right, both are very important. To deny respect towards one another is to deny a basic human need; to love and be loved, to acknowledge the impact others have on our lives (be it positive or negative). We cannot discount the importance of Respect. But only when we grasp where Honor starts and Respect ends, and the core differences between the two, will we be able to leverage both to their fullest potential.
A great college professor and very personal friend of mine, Prof. Skip Wilkins, would often say in his leadership and management classes,
Listen with your head, what your heart already knows. He would say this when an honor-based leadership principle he was about to share was contrary to generally accepted respect-based management ideas.
He would first describe the new principle. The students would rankle at the peculiar idea. Then Skip would invite them to ponder for it for a minute. What followed was very interesting. It was not long before some of folded arms were freed and heads would nod. Only when Skip saw that all had formed an opinion (for or against) did Prof. Wilkins solidify the principle with data and studies. In a short time the new Honor-Based principle was confirmed and they could move on.
So today I am inviting you to listen with your head, what your heart already knows. When you respond to these questions, listen to yourself. Which answers seem awkward? Which ones require a
yeah but... after your first response (always go with your gut response) and which ones can stand on their own. Ponder these questions to help draw a line between Respect and Honor.
We are going to do a couple thought experiments to help you mentally grasp what your heart already knows; the real definition of Honor. These thought experiments will help you distill Honor to its true form, in a way that separates it from respect (praise, esteem, or admiration). Once you can distinguish Respect from Honor, and understand the true nature of Honor, you will be able to hold
Authentic Honor yourself, not being mislead nor manipulated by external forces. Forces trying to make you rely on their
respect for your self-worth. You will stand straighter, grounded, and firm. You will be kinder and more understanding. You will have peace when the world falls in chaos. A person who stands with Honor is a sight to behold!
You are in an empty room. There is no one else there. Do you have respect there? Can you have respect standing in an empty room? Most likely you will say,
Yes, I have self-respect. I need you to notice something peculiar and important, you had to split yourself into two in order to get respect in an empty room. Take out the self-separation and say,
I have respect. When you say that the room will seem even more empty, for there are none else to give respect.
Now, I am going to ask you the follow-up question. Can you have Honor as you stand in an empty room? You say,
Yes. And that is it. No need to split yourself. You can’t have
self-honor. It seems silly to even say it that way. It doesn’t ring true.
You can have Honor standing in an empty room. It is fixed, firmly intrinsic. Alone, in an empty room, there are none that can give you Honor, nor take it away. Yet Honor is still there.
The second thought experiment is where a father is yelling in anger at his son,
You will respect your mother! Now, have the same father yelling,
You will Honor your Mother!
Which of these seem plausible and reasonable to demand?
The demand for Honor rings untrue. One can demand respect, but no one can demand Honor.
Similarly, one can Honor their Parents, and not obey them. But it is less likely one can disobey their parents and still respect them.
We identify our existence when we recognize the impacts of our actions on the world, others, and ourselves. Therefore, to diminish our ability to impact the world, poses a threat to our own existence. When we alllow something or someone to limit or impede our abilty to act and impact the world, it is an derogation of ones status as a self.
Given that Authentic Honor" is self-affirmed authority to declare ones personal sovereignty, and proclaim the strength of ones volition, our level of Honor dictataes the quantity and quality of our effect on the world, on our Friends and Family, and in our own lives.
Holding Honor provides the means to dictate changes and progress in our own lives, regardless of the obstacles and resistance. Honor is the foundation of personal peace, even where the rains come down, and the floods come up.
As it says in the poem "Invictus" (Oft quoted to the point of being cliché ) by English poet William Ernest Henley;
Honor allows us to declare with conviction we have every right and responsibity to act as we deem right. We have every right to do with passion that which is our prerogative. It is the declaration that we have every right to pursue our joy in the manner we deem fit. It is a declaration of independence from those who would make us slaves to their qualifications for approbation.
Authentic Honor is already yours. No one gives it to you. You may hold your Honor, or you may abandon it. It is entirely up to you.
freedom from..., over
The soul is willing, but the flesh is weak.
We abandon Honor anytime we forsake our essential rights and responsibilities, and acquiesce to resistance in any form.
If we fall to any of these, does that mean our Honor is gone? No. Honor is not like respect. It is not an
all or nothing proposition. It does however, mean our foundation to declare our soverinty and strength of our volition has been eroded. Each failure to act lessens our willingness and capability to take action the next time a challenge comes around.
In fact, there is a tipping point when Honor erodes exponentially with each failure to act. Once one reaches that point, our ability to act on our own volition becoomes almost non-existent, and regaining ones Honor becomes exponentially harder.
But take absurd comfort in this fact, if one has not died, one will eventually hit rock bottom. And there they will find there is no other choice but to look back to Honor. For by then all crutches, lies, and denial will no longer assuage their pain. They will have to be honest with themselves and others. They will have to look to others for help. There they will find they have no choice but to connect with those who are honorable. For anyone that had any respect for them in the past has been long gone. Only the honorable would lift them in their fallen state. For only the honorable can love unconditionally. Honoring them regardless of their state.
Don't wait to hit rock bottom. That foundation can begin to be rebuilt today, you can reclaim your Honor. You can look anyone in the eye. You can stand. You can pull down the power to accomplish what you set out to do. All you need to do is be honest. Look at where you are. Notice what moves you. Are you pushed? Or do you pull? Do you have fears that limit you? Are their items you partake in that erode your future ability to chose for yourself?
Once you have had an honest accounting of where you stand, do not lament your weakness. Do not revel in your grandure either. Honor yourself. Unconditionally love yourself. Acknowledge you are where you are, and that is perfect. You are not perfect, but where you are in your path is perfect. This is exactly where you are meant to be. Now is the time to chose to move forward, or give way to entropy.
You know your weakness; but you are not a victim of them. Know now that each weakness can be made a strength. Celebrate it as such. Really get excited you have something focus one to make you stronger, better, more secure in your stance.
Now, pick something you can act on today, right now. Pick one thing, something that you know erodes your foundation. Pick something small first. Something can be as relatively insignificant as putting you keys in the same place. Or not dropping your clothes on the floor next to your bed when you go to bed tired at the end of the day. You will focus on just that. There are so many things to work on, but you can let the other stuff go for now. Still stay as good as you've always been, just don't beat yourself up for what you're not. Let it go. You are going to be diligent on this one challenge.
When the desire to fudge on that one thing comes back, feel the pressure. Acknowledge it. Don't lament it coming around...again. Don't fight it. Just hold it gently. Like a tribble in your hand (Nerdy Star Trek reference). Remember, Honor is to act, not be acted upon. Name the pressure, hold it just for a second, just long enough to take note of its affect. Then, let it go. Drop it. Move on past it. You will act, not be pushed by the pressure to do whatever it tells you to do.
How do you do that? Move on? You have planned well in advance to do something else when that desire comes around. Having a plan becomes a path to walk right by it. Call a friend or mentor. Get out of the room. Count to ten. Something. The challenge will still sour you. But it will pass. And by then you will be somewhere else.
With time the challenge will become less, and eventually not be an issue at all. The challenge will check in with you every once in a while, but your response will be automatic by then.
Know this, the desire to do that thing did not get less. You will continue to feel apathy, anger, fatigue, desires, aging, loathing, and frustration. Just like everyone else. Though the feelings didn't change, your reactions will. You are stronger. Now that new strength is yours to keep as long as you stay practiced and diligent. You can now use that strengthening to overcome the next challenge. Pick another personal item that limits your future freedom. Just a little more challenging than the first. Plan and be diligent.
Here's a game I play that has helped me. My imagination sometimes gets away with me. I figure I could make that propensity become a strength. It helped. It became part of my response plan. This the story I use as a framework for my own efforts. But you can create something for yourself that easily arrests and holds your attention.
Imagine with me.
You are standing next to your foundation. The foundation upon which you can stand and see your world. You find at your feet a brick. There is a whole pile of them. Feel the abrasion on your hands as you lift it, feel its weight. It is strong. You scratch its corner along the concrete of the foundation and find it is stronger than the concrete of which your foundation is made. As you inspect the scratch from the brick, your attention is drawn to holes all along the sides of your foundation. They look like they have been chewed and clawed into being. It looks like something has been scratching at the foundation for years. Perhaps the brick in hand will fill one of the holes? You find the brick doesn't fit the hole perfectly. But it is close. You look for the cause of the damage. You see nothing there. Something catches your attention. A bald tail being pulled around the corner of the foundation. You follow it around to find hundreds of rats chewing and scratching away at your foundation. They look at you for just a second, then go right back to scratching and clawing at your foundation. You freak out and run back around the corner.
You remember the brick. You steel your courage and toss the brick around the corner like a grenade, hoping to hit something. You hear squeals, and then silence. You peek around the corner and see the tip of the last naked tail disappear behind the farthest corner. You follow it and again find the rats. Again they look at you for a second, and then go back to digging and scratching. This time you find the rats apathy a little disrespectful (I guess their clawing at your foundation isn't enough?). You go back around the corner and pick up the brick you threw. You throw it again. This time it is right at the lot of them. No luck. They squeal and run around the corner. You pick up the brick, go around the corner and attempt to crush them by throwing it in the middle of the swarm of rats again. Lamentably after every throw, there are no wounded. Eventually they don't even head around the corner when you throw.
This round you do something a little different. You stand still. You watch. You see some of the rats stay a little outside the plague of rats. You pick one and watch. The rats swirl weave around each other, but you keep focused on the one rat. The rat slows for just second and bang! You throw the brick with focused precision. The rat is squashed! You pick up the brick and get ready to throw it again. You realize the brick had been beat up. Some of the corners are chipped off. Your throws have changed the shape of the brick. You recognize the new shape. You realize the brick now fits perfectly in the hole you had compared it to before.
You run back to the pile of bricks, then head back to the rats. You find them trying to scratch at the new brick. They don't like the fact you stole back the progress they had made in destroying your foundation. They don't look happy as they can't even scratch the brick.
You find new a target and wait. A few focused throws. Bam! Another dead rat, and another perfectly chipped brick. With time you get better and better at squashing larger and larger rats with less and less throws. Your foundation gets stronger and stronger.
The swarm gets smaller every day, but never goes entirely away, the ones that are left are wiley and quite large. And some rats even come back. That's ok, by now you look forward to the challenge, because with every attempt, you are strengthening your foundation.
I see every cause of erosion to my foundation as a rat. I literaly call them rats. I can see them everywhere I look. But you know what? I try not to let them bother me. I see them for what they are, but I don't freakout. I try to keep them from my foundation. I focus on one rat at a time. I find if I try to smash two, I generally miss both. If I target one I am much more likely to be successful. I can take my time, and throw when I am ready. It's ok, the other rats aren't going anywhere.
Have a plan and be diligent.
Chose today to act, not be acted upon, specifically in the one challenge you have selected. Be diligent in recognizing the auto-pilot actions that we do without thought. Be ready for default actions we fall into when we need comfort. Now, you will see the rats coming, and you will be ready to respond. Now you have the choice, to run from the rats, or stand. This time you will be prepared. the brick is heavy, and the rats are quick, but you are ready to do what is required. You will meet the rats on your terms.
We are men of action, lies do not become us