Throughout my career in the information technology field, I’ve lost count how many times I upgraded computer labs. The time required for disconnecting and dismantling the computers were far quicker than the setup of the new machines. New computer setups require extensive time and effort to properly get the machines set up, configured, and keeping things neat and tidy. As part of a support team, I took great pride in the physical setup, and often viewed these upgrades as a direct reflection on our professionalism.
As with most things in life, time and effort to build up is much more extensive than the requirements to tear down. Tearing down a house goes much faster than building one. Breaking down old equipment was much easier than setting up the new equipment. I did it the right way. I wanted our students to come into a lab that was working, clean, and provided a positive framework for a learning experience.
Think of character and integrity as the same. These traits are not automatically given to those in positions of power and influence, nor are they inherited by those born in wealth. Regardless of the individual, character and integrity have to be built over time. Many decisions and actions that build on each other over time, building a solid foundation. The effort required is the same for each of us.
Character and integrity can be built up easily. Someone doesn’t have to be an old sage to achieve it. People with good character and integrity come in all ages. However, one must focus on their words and actions. The challenge of building and maintaining takes time and conscious effort. There are many examples of those who were viewed positively, but suffered falls from grace. Lance Armstrong was a hero to many. Martha Stewart was admired as a successful business woman. They made mistakes, and have never recovered lost character. In spite of their positive actions in recent memory, they’ll never quite get past the stigma of their actions. This may not be fair, but it’s the nature of life.
At a glance, building and maintaining character and integrity seems challenging. Some may wonder if it’s worth the effort to build and maintain. Some may see shortcuts to quick successes that may veer off the path, and they may convince themselves that others are doing it, and if they don’t, they’ll be at a disadvantage.
In the end, your character and integrity is all you have that’s truly yours. Wealth may fluctuate. Fame may be fleeting. But your character will be your legacy. Character and integrity are like gardens. They must be tended and cared for. Keeping something maintained is much easier than to rebuild. Make decisions that you would be proud of. Make decisions that your children will admire and pattern their own after. You have only one shot at a legacy, so keep building and working on doing the right thing.