Honor Is About You, No One Else

Honor is a funny thing. Most people think they have it, however, very few truly do. At one time to be “A Man of Honor” was a way of life. Most people, man or woman, existed where their word was as “good as gold” or, as I like to say, “My handshake is better than any contract.” Folks would have rather died than not be true to their statements. That was evident by the duels that occurred between men just to defend their honor. Being a person of honor was something to hang your hat on. Your integrity was your calling card. So what happened? Where did things go awry?

I don’t know the exact answer, but I think that people have allowed technicalities to sneak into their modes of operation. You know, excuses that have validity on some level, but in the spirit of honor, they are just ways to weasel out of a commitment. I am often disappointed in people because they look for angles or “outs” to renege on their obligations. I am speaking of those times when folks take the “easy out”.  I was in a meeting a couple of years ago negotiating a deal with some high-powered and respected businessmen. They wanted me to agree to terms that favored them, didn’t hurt me, but put one of my partners at a disadvantage. Without getting into the details, they basically wanted me to dilute the interest of the other person. Legally and ethically, believe it or not, it was an accepted practice. But it just didn’t feel like the right thing for me to do. I told them I would give up more of my stake as opposed to their plan, but that did not satisfy them. They thought I was nuts; perhaps in this day and age of business dealings, I am.

I didn’t agree to the deal, and lost a significant amount of monetary gain. Maybe I was foolish, and perhaps I made a business blunder by not following the standard practice. But, in my opinion, just because something is “standard” doesn’t mean it’s right. Just because there are technicalities that give you an out, that doesn’t mean you should run for the exits. Saving your own skin has become a dirty practice in our society. Ok, I’m preaching a bit here, but I do so knowing that I’m not perfect and that I have made mistakes. Like most folks, I have not always made the right decisions, and I regret those mistakes. But I do have this going for me: when I say I am going to do something, I do everything in my power to make it happen, even if I have to sacrifice a bit of myself. I don’t intend for this post to be self-serving, although I’m sure some will view it that way; it’s not about me, I’m just the instrument to make this point.

Do what you say you are going to do. Forget about the technicalities. Live your life in such a way that when you get up in the morning and look in the mirror, you feel good about what you see. Remember, you may be able to fool others, but you can’t fool yourself. That’s exactly the point. Honor is not about other people. Honor is about you. It doesn’t matter what others do. It doesn’t matter what they think of you. What matters is how you feel about you. Always remember, your word is your honor. If you live with this in mind, you may not become a billionaire, but I promise you will be happy with yourself.


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  1. I view honor and integrity as magnetic states of being. When you are with someone who possesses both, you can tell. They draw energy to themselves. It sounds a bit new-agey, but nonetheless, I can also tell when I’m around someone who doesn’t have a problem fudging facts. Their center doesn’t hold, so to speak.

    Food for thought. Thanks for taking the time to write this post.

    1. Lou Imbriano says:


      No doubt. You can sift through the posers and the frauds to get to those who are genuine and do what they say they do. Both stick out in actions and words.

      Thank you for stoping by and taking the time to comment.

      I hope all is well,

  2. Another great article, Lou. The only question I might have is where you say: “If you live with this in mind, you may not become a billionaire, but I promise you will be happy with yourself.” I also think that if your goal is to become a billionaire then having the kind of integrity you discuss in your article is much more likely to get you there. After all, if it’s true that – all things being equal, people do business with those they know, like and trust – what you might lose in one deal will be made up for many, many times over by those who “get” that, as you said, your word is your bond. And, the one who lives in this kind of integrity will find their reputation growing and spreading well beyond that of most others. Just a thought, of course. I really enjoyed your post and the lesson you taught.

    1. Lou Imbriano says:

      Hi Bob,

      Thank you as always for your support and generosity in sharing my posts. I am glad you make this point because I definitely would like to clarify. You are absolutely correct in theory and in what most solid business people practice each and every day. I think the more you give, the more you grow and flourish.

      That being said, billionaire is an entirely different animal. I think to achieve such incredible wealth you have to be extremely talented, very lucky and have done some dishonorable to get to that financial situation. It may be as simple as never spending time with your family to get to the top. To me there is no honor in that. I am probably being tough and definitely generalizing, but when you hear stories of billionaires there is always something suspect in their path to that dramatic financial position.

      Thank you again for your constant support.

      My best,

  3. It might seem strange coming from someone who writes about what is essentially ways for adults to make-believe, but as a RPG writer and game referee I have had to think about honor (or to use the Australian Spelling, Honour) many times. My conclusion is that honour is the adherance to a code of behaviour that describes an interaction mode of personal behaviour in every respect that is idealised in every respect.

    If this is so, then the decline in adherance to such a behavioural code must be tied to a shift in the perception of and beleif in the attainability of, ideals. And to my mind, the start of the slippery slope was the “win at any costs” mentality that was put on public display politically by Watergate and by the “win at any costs” philosophy of the military heirarchy during the Vietnam conflict. Suddenly, those who claimed to espouse any kind of “superior moral code” (the Hippie movement) became the enemy of mainstream society; but in the process, they threw the baby out with the bathwater, and made it acceptable for corporations to put stockholders before customers, etc.

    The Kennedy era represented the heights of idealism, as symbolised by it’s perception as the new Camelot. The seeds of the end of the age of Honour as a common aspiration were sown in that administration, and began flower with his assassination.

    But that’s just my view.

    Is honour dead? No, there are people with integrity. But they are surrounded by people who will forego honour for the rewards of expediency and self-service. Will it ever return to prominance as an accepted way of life? What has happened once can happen again; the rebirth would be traumatic, but it is not impossible. Or it could be restored, one person at a time, if those who believe in it don’t give up the fight.

  4. John Armatas says:

    I know . . . I know a caveat is just another word for “outs”, however there are times when ones moral perspective trumps the “deal” or “word”. Sometimes you just realize too late in the game who you have gotten in bed with. Without that peak under the kimono – you just had no way to know what and who you are dealing with at the outset.

  5. Lou –

    Thanks for the Post – I don’t think it was self serving at all – actually, I took it as a wake up call – a calling for self evaluation.

    You make some real strong points in your post – nothing more important than a statement made in your last paragraph…”Live your life in such a way that when you get up in the morning and look in the mirror, you feel good about what you see.” That is so true – I often state, at the end of the day, I have to go to sleep with myself and I want to get a good nights sleep. One of the toughest things for someone to do is to self evaluate – to look at themselves and question their behavior and their motive.

    I sometimes think, we have lowered our standards and accepted that it is okay not to be a person of your word. The mentality that states, “Well, everyone else does it, so it’s okay if I go back on my word…”

    How many people do you know that have made their personal brand based on Integrity, Honor, and Commitment To Their Word…I’ll bet most of them are happy, well respected, and very successful.

    Thanks Lou for your post and perspective – keep us on our toes!


    1. Lou Imbriano says:

      Thank you for the kind words and the thoughtful comment Steve. You and I are in the same orbit bud. I want to live my life so I can sleep well every night. Thank you for bringing that notion to the post.

      My best,

  6. Steve G., I love your quote: “at the end of the day, I have to go to sleep with myself and I want to get a good nights sleep.” I’d really like to tweet it (giving you credit, of course). Could you let me know your twitter address?

    1. Thanks Bob – my pleasure – @SPGonz

    2. Lou Imbriano says:

      Yes Bob ~ Right on Steve!

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