by Jane Anderson, Featured Contributor
Moral Character is the DNA of success and happiness,”
– and so begins this powerful book by Frank Sonnenberg. Because it’s not practical to share insights from each chapter, I hope my favorite selections will entice you to buy a copy of the book and be inspired to follow your conscience in all aspects of your private and public life. This is not a book on leadership, it is not a book on business, it is not a process improvement book. In fact, this book is all those things and more for you, for your family, for your co-workers, and your business. There is more to this book that what I’ve chosen to share, but these were the most meaningful takeaways for me. Here are a few others I haven’t written about, but are no less important to living life according to your conscience: Humility, Honor, Passion, Giving, Ambition
Positive Attitudes are contagious, but so are instances of negativity that threaten to rob us of our positive mental attitudes. Worry, arguing, gossip, complaints, criticism, blame – all feed negativity and pessimism. Frank says it pays to be positive and we should surround ourselves with positive people, be positive yourself, resist negative thinking, set realistic goals, turn challenges into opportunities, and count your blessings. It pays to be positive.
Live your life with purpose. An empty spirit lives in defeat always searching for something more. Living life with purpose is characterized by achieving balance, feeling content, setting priorities, following your passion, living in the moment, and, my personal favorite, living by your beliefs and values.
Have you heard it takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to destroy it? This is how it is with authenticity. Talk is cheap and credibility is damaged when there is no alignment between what is said and what is actually done. When the walk doesn’t match the talk, trust is lost. Whether you are a leader or an influencer, be consistent with your message so your behavior becomes a catalyst for people’s faith and trust in your.
Integrity is serious. There is no wiggle room in a promise. A promise is a promise and regardless of its significance it’s a commitment meant to be kept. When you give your word, you are putting your honor on the line and you are stating your intentions to do what you say you will. Broken promises are often the result of a lie, stated as the truth, but with no intention of fulfilling it.
Respect is always earned. Even the rich and famous have to earn respect. People may applaud, try to get up close to, and even be a member of a fan club, but still not respect the person receiving all the attention. To earn respect be proud of who you are, continually seek to increase your knowledge, be fair, practice integrity, be selfless and modest, have compassion for others, take personal responsibility for your life. Whether young or old, earn respect. It’s priceless.
Tolerance is the bridge to getting along. Even if you don’t agree with someone’s political party, or eating habits, chosen exercise routine, religion, or lifestyle – be tolerant. Take the high road. Listen more, talk less, and strive to have true communication. Focus all discussions on the merit of the topic, speak of only the facts, take the time necessary to achieve understanding, even if not agreement. Remember the best strategy is win-win.
Having faith defies all logic and expectations. The author opened wide the door to encourage readers to believe in a power higher than themselves. He said some of us don’t believe in miracles, but for some of us, miracles happen every day. If you’re looking for impossible things to happen, have a little faith and believe.
Happiness is found in balance. Balance is achieved by establishing goals, determining priorities, and planning the steps to achieve them. Balance is affected by eight areas of our lives. Physical, Professional, Pleasurable, Mental, Spiritual, Emotional, Material, Social. Some keys to keeping these areas in balance are remain focused and disciplined, invest time wisely, treat yourself, set boundaries, try new things, be open to change, invest in relationships, make time to do nothing, and live life with purpose.
How heavy is your baggage? This chapter struck a chord with me because I’ve had countless friends express to me that they have fear, anxiety, or depression. Frank describes these factors as carrying around the weight of a backpack all the time. He says we play out the drama of fear, criticism, guilt, anger, envy, and every other negative feeling until we are overloaded and debilitated by it. Some ways to take a load off your mind are: journal negative thoughts so you can deal with them, think about positive things, acknowledge facts – what really is happening, realize what is realistic about what you can do something about and what you can’t, accept what you can’t change and seek to make the best of it.
Not all choices are created equal. Some have minimal consequence while others will significantly change your life. I like what the author points out. We are a product of the choices we make. Each decision helps to define who we are and how we are different from one another. When making choices take into account that values matter, you are in charge of your choices, and you define success on your own terms.
Are Role Models becoming extinct? Why is it that people we once looked up to sometimes let us down? Integrity is so often treated as a liability and facts are forsaken in favor of popularity ratings. Sonnenberg encourages all of us to set the bar high, inspire others, stand for something, walk the talk, guard our integrity, be respectful, believe in ourselves, and hold people accountable. Step up to the challenge and reinstate role models – be one yourself.
The Resources section of the book is a not-to-miss addition to the book. Here the author provides lists to help us all live lives of integrity and follow our consciences. How about these lists: 50 Things Money Can’t Buy, How to Build Trust and Credibility, How to Lose Trust and Credibility, Ways to Say You Care, Little Things That Count, and Take the Parent’s Pledge.
The author, Frank Sonnenberg, invites us into his book with this introduction. Promise yourself to live every day to the Max – and he then goes on to suggest how his readers might do that. He ends with, “If you promise yourself anything less, you’ll be letting yourself down.” Promise yourself you’ll buy this book, read it, apply it; to do anything less …. well you decide.