“People attempting to write a mission statement for the first time often write to please or impress someone else. They don’t go the distance or pay the price to create a deep inner connection. Their mission statements become a series of platitudes, a ‘to-do’ checked off the list and filed somewhere for occasional inspiration.” So wrote Stephen Covey, A Roger Merrill and Barbara Merrill in the 1994 book, First Things First.

Character requires Integrity. Integrity requires identifying, defining and complying with a set of personal values. Personal values are NOT copied without thought from someone else’s homework. For all the Codes of Ethics decreed and disseminated from Mount Olympus, an individual must do the work required to discover their own virtues. They may match the tablets of stone, or they may differ a little. But blind compliance with someone else’s dictated values system is no more an example of personal congruence than that shown by U2’s Bono, who demanded greenery from the world while sending his hat on a First Class flight across the Atlantic.

To be frank, I think I’m seeing that all over the world, now. For all the positive intent of the less violent anti-racism activists, the constant reporting of corporate self-flagellation is kind of wearing.

The companies who avoid paying tax despite billions in profits, telling me how socially aware they are? Platitudes.

People saying we should ‘have a conversation about’ an issue, whose meaning really is ‘you have to listen to and agree with me or you’re a …..’. False prophets.

Luvvies feigning shame over something they haven’t done or aren’t remotely responsible for? Bandwagon.

Companies introducing Unconscious Bias training and banging on about it? Marketing.

Character – true character – does not need explanation, marketing, or platitudes. It doesn’t have to be seen to join a movement – it is a movement all of its own. It sells itself, no budget required.

When an individual takes the time and puts in the effort to identify, define and then live by their values, they don’t need to make public statements. What they say, they do. What they believe, they are. There is no incongruence, no hypocrisy. One person, one set of values, one set of behaviours.

So I’ll admit that when I see Sainsbury’s, Ben and Jerry’s and the BBC’s efforts to enlighten me, I find the cynic in me asking, “Where were you before the 25th of May? Are you enlightened, or just pretending to be? If the latter – what are you afraid of?”

And since their errant hypocrisies are constantly being brought to light – Sainsbury’s admitting they have a racial pay gap, the BBC having a gender pay gap, Bono using up half the National Grid to light his face up on stage – I ask myself “Who the hell are you to preach to me?” I suspect many others feel the same.

God knows I am not perfect. But I don’t pretend to be. All I am doing with these posts and my books is trying to find, as much for myself as for others, how people could be better. I don’t tell people what to think – I invite them to ask themselves the questions to which they can find their own answers. Not what to think – but that they can think. For themselves.

Help me help others – and help me to help me.

Keep me honest, make me accountable. And find someone who can make you accountable, too. But for the right reasons and in the right Way.

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