What Counts Most in a Person?

Of all character attributes, what counts most? For me, it’s integrity, or doing the right thing, regardless of circumstance, especially when no one’s around. I say this because of the pervasive anonymity our high tech age confers. I confess to being a Marcus Aurelius devotee, who in Meditations wisely counseled, “Do not act as if you were going to live ten thousand years. Death hangs over you. While you live, while it is in your power, be good.”

I was seated by a corporate CE0 on a flight years ago and we began to converse. He shared that what he looked for most were trustworthy employees committed to doing the job right, workers not requiring micromanagement. Warren Buffett echoes this sentiment when he counseled, “We look for three things when we hire people. We look for intelligence, we look for initiative or energy, and we look for integrity. Without the latter, the first two can hurt you.“

In short, trustworthiness is primary, sorely lacking in business, politics and even religion today. And yes, too frequently in private conduct. Some may call it, ‘walking the talk.” I call it Integrity.—rj

On Reading Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations

I posted the other day in Facebook about having read Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. I wish I had read it as a young man, ordering my life at its outset with its wise, profound counsel, bringing sanctuary and stability in an often troubled world. It’s that good, but read it in the Hays translation to ease your way. There are some books one should read every year. For me, Meditations is one of them:

“People try to get away from it all—to the country, to the beach, to the mountains. You always wish that you could too. Which is idiotic: you can get away from it anytime you like. By going within. Nowhere you can go is more peaceful—more free of interruptions—than your own soul.” (4.3) —Marcus Aurelius

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