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My former boss passed away this week. His death was unexpected, and I’ve spent the past couple of days reflecting not only on how much he did for me, but on who he was as a person.  The word that keeps coming to my mind is “honorable.”  My boss was an honorable man.

Honorable isn’t a word you hear very often anymore. It sounds old fashioned.  It seemed to go out of favor with the baby boomer generation, and it has yet to return.  That is unfortunate.  Being honorable is a quality that we desperately need to value again.

We live in a world in which loud-mouthed, crass behavior is mistaken for leadership. Success is defined by one’s money rather than one’s morality.  And “straight talk” is valued over good manners.  Whatever happened to being honorable?

My former boss was an honorable person. His top priority was his family.  He adored his wife.  He raised two sons with whom he was exceedingly proud because they were “honorable men.”  He loved being a grandfather.

He not only had an impeccable work ethic (in before 7 a.m. every day, and at the office every Saturday morning), but he had an interest in the well-being of his staff. When I got divorced, he sincerely wanted to know if I was OK.  He asked me if I could make ends meet on my salary.  He told me that he would understand if I needed to look for higher paying work.  He and his wife recommended books for my daughter to read, and when my daughter stopped by the office, he taught her to shoot rubber bands, like a real grandpa.  He was a true leader because he not only demanded great things from his staff, but he demanded even more from himself.

As a society, we’ve made progress in two important ways: We’ve established that women’s and racial equality are the expected norms (even if these norms aren’t always achieved). However, there is one area in which we’ve gone backwards – We have stopped valuing honorable behavior.  Our morals have become flexible.  Serving one’s family and society have taken a backseat to serving oneself.  Being dignified in how we speak and dress today is considered to be old fashioned.  And we’ve stopped taking pride in how we conduct ourselves, both publicly and privately.

I think many of us want honorable living to become a priority for society once again.  Perhaps that is why we are drawn to films like the Harry Potter series and the Avengers.  We crave stories about honor.  We want to see people grapple with right and wrong.  We want to witness people going above and beyond the call of duty to serve society.  We want to see fictional people exemplify the qualities of courage, decency and compassion because we don’t see enough of that in real life.

I was blessed to have a real-life example of what it means to be honorable when I had the privilege to work for my former boss. If you have someone in your life who lives honorably, watch how that person operates.  Listen to what they say.  Consider how they treat others.  Then try to live your own life honorably, and hopefully you too will be both an example and a blessing for someone else.

(Photo Courtesy of Pexels)

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