The Locker Lesson
My 13-year old son had started at one of the most prestigious private schools in the nation - an honor that we were paying $20,000 a year for and at a school that had 100 applications for each spot! When he came home the second month with a horrified look on his face, telling me that he'd done something awful, I was more than a little concerned. He explained that, as a prank, he had given a boy's locker combination to someone else. That person had opened the locker, and trashed all the books and belongings inside. He didn't know what to do, so he asked for my advice.
Here's what I guided him to do: He called the boy whose locker was trashed, told him that he was responsible, and that he would do whatever it took to make things right. He called the boy's parents, told them he was sorry and would do whatever it took to make things right. Even though the mother was yelling at him and calling him names, I stood by his side, and he continued to apologize. The next morning, he went to the Dean's office before his first class, told the Dean what he had done, and said he would do whatever it took to make things right.
This was one of the most terrifying moments of my son's life up until that time. I can remember the look of horror on his face as the mother cursed him and called him names. I also remember that he was able to stand up tall, with dignity and with self-esteem, as he went to school the next morning to talk with the Dean. He felt good about himself, not because he had made a mistake (as everyone is going to do in life!), but because he had the courage to stand up and admit it. He had the integrity to take responsibility for his actions and the inner strength to do whatever it took to make things right.
Now, you may be wondering what happened in all of this. My son had to pay for a new lock for the boy's locker. The Dean called me to tell me he had never in his entire career seen a student carry himself with such dignity and such integrity. He was truly impressed and thanked me for the guidance I'd given him, and for raising such an incredible son with clear values.
The boy whose locker had been trashed barely talked to my son for four years. And yet, when they were graduating from high school and went to their elementary school reunion, it was as if nothing had ever happened. Yes, it took some time for the wounds to heal, but in the end everything turned out fine.
What happened to the boy who actually opened the locker and trashed it? He refused to apologize and his parents refused to make him apologize. He was put on detention for weeks and was asked to leave the school at the end of the year.
We all make mistakes, some of them are big ones, some of them are small. My son made a mistake, and in the process got to learn a very valuable lesson.
Honesty is always the best policy. Taking responsibility for what you say and do is essential if you want to feel good about yourself. It's important to be willing to go to any length to make things right when you breach your integrity. It may not be easy. It may feel crummy and uncomfortable. You may get yelled at. In the end, though, you'll be able to walk with your head held high, you will be able to go to sleep in peace at night, and you will be respected.
Most important, you will respect yourself. That may be the greatest gift of all.
Debbie Friedman, M.S., C.Ht., is the Manifesting Maven who helps people consciously create the life they love to live. She is the creator of the popular Cleaning Out the Closet of Your Mind for Wealth series. www.CleaningOutTheCloset.com
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