A Matter of Character

In his autobiography Days of Grace (Random House Audio, 1993), tennis great Arthur Ashe relates a defining incident that occurred when he was 17 years old. He was playing in a tournament in West Virginia. As was often the case, he was the only contestant of color in the tournament.

One night, some of the kids trashed a cabin. They absolutely destroyed it and then decided to say that Arthur was responsible. The incident was reported in the newspapers; Arthur denied his involvement, but the boys would not change their story.

The worst part for Arthur was worrying about what his father would say and do. He eventually made the dreaded phone call. As he surmised, his father had already learned of the vandalism.

His father’s tone was grim. He asked Arthur only one question. “Arthur Junior,” he asked, “all I want to know is…were you mixed up in that mess?”

Arthur answered, “No, Daddy, I wasn’t.” His father never asked about it again. Arthur learned that day why he had always been encouraged to tell the truth. There would come a time when he must be believed, and this was such a time.

Because he had already earned his trust and respect, he knew his father believed him. From that day on he was determined, above all else, to live a life of integrity.

Unfortunately, we find notable examples of modern leaders in every field who give low priority to personal integrity. But we do not need saints – we need people like you. People who will be known for their integrity. People who will determine to be their best selves. People who daily earn the trust and respect of others, regardless of their age or station in life. People who insist on the importance of character.

Our world does not need another saint. But it needs you.

Article by Steve Goodier – He is the author of numerous books about personal development, motivation, inspiration, and making needed life changes.