Look inside. What do you find there? Emptiness and waste? Or strength of character, integrity, and honesty?
There is nothing more picturesque than a tree-lined street. We love trees for their beauty and for what they provide—be it beauty, shade, fruit, syrup, or lumber. We also appreciate what they symbolize: strength, endurance, steady growth, and renewal.
On just such a tree-lined street stands a tree that looks like its fellows—tall, straight, sturdy, and beautiful. But come closer, look around the tree, and you will find that it is hollow. Something happened, long ago, that weakened the trunk. Year after year, instead of steady growth, this tree experienced steady decay. Now it relies on steel reinforcements to stand straight and tall like the trees around it.
Because holes will be filled, the tree is full of all kinds of waste, making its hollowness even more profound. Instead of a strong trunk that carries nutrients to the branches, this tree has garbage enclosed in bark.
Just as trees grow slowly and steadily through the years when they have the proper nutrients and conditions, people’s characters grow steadily from day to day and year to year. With the right choices, a person will grow into a strong, upright individual who is guided by an inner sense of right and wrong, and self-worth. People who grow this way will be honest, hardworking, and fair. They will be a force for good in the workplace and the community. Personal integrity will be more important to them than any other measure of success.
Unfortunately, it is also possible that negative, corrosive influences can weaken a person’s growing character. Those who allow these influences to determine what they do will slowly decay. They may look and act (publicly, at least) just like every other person. But those who suffer from moral decay have lost their natural strength and goodness. They are hollow. The slow and steady loss of integrity leaves them empty and they will likely become receptacles of all types of waste.
Look inside—what do you find there? Emptiness and waste? Or strength, integrity, and honesty?
A few tips:
- Consider the choices you have made over the years. Are they consistent with your values?
Think of people you admire for their strength of character and code of ethics. How do you measure up to them?
- Conduct a self-assessment to see ways you could be more consistent with the honesty and integrity you want to emulate.