Put Your Best Foot Forward
How Good Manners Enhance your professional and personal life.
“If you are more fortunate than others, it is better to build a longer table than a taller fence.”-Unknown
Table Leg 4: HONOR
March is the month of anticipation. Winter is beginning to give way. We are tempted with days of warmth and sunshine, only to be greeted by the cold winter wind the next day. But such is nature. Nothing good ever escapes us.
Let us explore the final leg of our table this month.
Table Leg 4 is HONOR.
To review: the four legs of the table symbolize the four tenants of good manners. The surface of the table represents the one force driving all of human behavior.
The four legs of the table are Trust, Respect, Love, and Honor. It takes all four legs of the table to live a principled, well-mannered life. If one of the “legs” is missing or lacking, then our persona will be off-balance, just as a four-legged table with only three legs would be unbalanced.
Honor: Honor and Honour were equally used into the 17th century. In the United States now, ‘honor’ is the more accepted term. High esteem, Integrity, Character, Gratefulness, Reverence, Self-Respect, Dignity, Distinction. To be honorable is to be entitled of respect, esteem, reverence. A closely related trait is that of humility: unpretentiousness or humbleness.
Authenticity is also a part of Honor. To be authentic is to be who are you are, from the inside out. Being true to your internal compass. And for some of us, being authentic is being colorful in our personality, with cowboy hats or bow ties or glittery high heeled shoes.
Living in an Honorable Way
In a life filled with nonstop distractions, sexy ideas, in-your-face-advertisements, 24-
hour-a-day-news and electronic information at all levels of discernment, it can be challenging to
live in an honorable way.
To understand honor with its multi-tiered facets, we look to Marcus Aurelius, a Roman
Emperor. Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus (26 April 121 – 17 March 180 AD) was
considered the last of Rome’s Five Good Emperors. He was Emperor of Rome from 161 to 180.
His untitled writing, commonly known as the Meditations, was written in Greek while Aurelius
was on campaign between 170-180. The Meditations is still revered as a literary monument to a
life of service and duty, describing how to find and preserve equilibrium, a state of psychological
stability and composure, and in the midst of conflict by following nature as a source of guidance
After his biological father’s death, Aurelius’ greatest influence was his paternal
Grandfather, Marcus Annius Verus, whom he came to consider as a father. Verus taught the
young Aurelius the values of humility, honor, nonjudgmental kindness and personal integrity.
Among the qualities Aurelius was taught:
- Compassion. Indifference to superficial honors. Hard work. Persistence.
- Listening to anyone who could contribute to the public good.
- A steadfast determination to treat people as they deserved.
- A sense of when to push and when to back off.
- The ability to feel at ease with people—and to put them at ease by his presence, without being pushy.
- His thoughtful, probing questions at meetings. He had a kind of steadfastness. He always went beyond first impressions and never broke off a discussion hastily.
- He was always clear-headed, steady and never vulgar or prey to fads or rumors.
- He believed strongly in self-sufficiency and resourcefulness.
- He was cheerful. Endlessly cheerful.
Despite the fact that Aurelius was born into fortune, he lived his life without arrogance
and without apology. In other words, he was an honorable man.
The qualities Aurelius was taught still resonate today.
Honor is doing the right thing. At the right time. For the right reason.
Something to think about:
- If you do the right thing for the right reason, everything will be fine.
- If you do the right thing for the wrong reason… it may not work out.
- If you do the wrong thing for the right reason… you’re pushing your luck.
Without Honor, the other three legs of your table may not stand (Trust, Respect, Love).
The idea of a longer table symbolizes inclusion, acceptance, caring. The concept of
“Them” and “Us” does not need to shape our table. It is a collective “We” that is the most
When inviting people to your table, you are offering sustenance and friendship. You are
helping to build people up. In essence, you are saying, “I accept you. Let’s get to know each
other better. Let’s work together.” You are building up and enhancing someone, as well as
yourself. It is a win-win situation.
When we talk about “Building a Longer Table,” it is symbolic of our life. And, at times,
we will actually be at a table with someone, enjoying sustenance and good conversation.
Building a Longer Table:
- It is symbolic of our life.
- Are you putting your best out to the world?
- Are you courteous and cordial in everyday actions—to family members and to strangers
and business associates?
- Are you growing in your career?
- Reaching for your goals?
- Living your life honorably?
Remember: Share your goodness, far and wide, as much as you can, with as many people as you can, for as long as you can, with as much respect as you can.
Ready, Set…Time to Say Please and Thank You again.
COMING NEXT: The one force that drives all of human behavior.