In the 1992 production of A Few Good Men, the Aaron Sorkin legal military masterpiece directed by Rob Reiner, numerous memorable quotes and speeches will go down in cinematic history. Jack Nicholson, portraying Colonel Nathan Jessup’s “You can’t handle the truth” might be one of the most remembered and repeatable lines in any movie this side of Tara and “Tomorrow is another day” in Gone With The Wind.
However, probably the most remarkable and poignant dialogue of the drama comes at the end of the film when attorney Lt. Daniel Kaffee, played by Tom Cruise states to the two marines he just defended in a trial that resulted in their court martial: “You don’t have to have a patch on your arm to have honor.”
Honor is a trait sought by all but achieved by few. Business is a rough and tumble life where we all make excuses such as: “It’s not personal – It’s only business.” In reality, excuses just don’t cut it; you can’t wish away a negative by redefining your actions. Honor, above all is worth maintaining and in today’s world, a goal more difficult than ever to attain.
“Confidence….thrives on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection and on unselfish performance. Without them it cannot live.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt.
One of the most difficult personality virtues to demonstrate for any individual, especially one in transition while seeking a new position is honor. To detail such an attribute in a conversation or during an interview is downright impossible without presenting oneself as a egotist; obviously not a side of you that needs to be detailed to a potential new boss.
Your personal Honor is best presented by the stories you tell in life that can be relatable in a job interview; your reaction to adversity or how you treated contemporaries the way you would want to be treated. It is one of those traits that comes out best without actually mentioning it. It is how you live your life and it is how you treat your fellow man. As Roosevelt stated, confidence is the end product of honesty and honor and all three virtues will put you in a better place when seeking new employment.
“The difference between a moral man and a man of honor is that the latter regrets a discreditable act, even when it has worked and he has not been caught.” – H. L. Mencken.
Honor is defined as honesty, fairness or integrity in one’s belief and actions; a source of credit or distinction, high respect, as for merit or rank. It is so unfortunate that the standard is so low when one searches for an honorable being. Too many individuals make excuses for their actions but if you are to standout amongst the competition, honor is a great place to begin. You needn’t look like an alien when describing your life patterns, integrity need not be tossed on the garbage heap along with all the other reachable goals. One can be honorable without appearing like a societal freak.
Dependent on how one presents himself and how one reacts to the world is how he will be treated. Philosophy is one thing but actions are what really matter. With the right philosophy on life and with the appropriate presentation skills utilized, it will not be long until you too remark “You want me on that wall, you need me on that wall” to the next recruiter or search committee.
“There are three classes of men; lovers of wisdom, lovers of honor, and lovers of gain.” – Plato.
Dan Borschke is a Certified Association Executive who has been a CEO for 3 distinct trade associaitons in his career. He is one of only 230 Association Executives worldwide who has been granted the prestigious designation of Fellow by the American Society of Association Executives since 1986. He curently is between positions and has written more than 50,000 words and 100 blog postings on the topics of job search and career transition.
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