When no one is looking

There was once a young man who was going through a bit of a financial crisis. He would spend the little money he earned, living an extravagant life he couldn’t afford. One fine day he turned up at his long-estranged parents’ house.

The mother took him in gladly, but the father took caution and wished to test the man his son had turned out to be after leaving his home for “better prospects” almost a decade ago. Not long after, the son approached his father with a business proposal. He asked his father to fund his venture and see his money triple in a year. The father agrees and takes the son into his study, where he unlocks the family safe with the son watching. The son is amazed at finding a huge amount of money in there and gladly takes the amount he needs.

But that night, as the son lied awake in bed, he could not help but think about the safe. About how he could always use some extra cash and how his old parents had no need of all of that money. He sneaks into his father’s study and finds the safe to be open. “The old man is getting too old”, he mused. He took as much as he could carry and once again, left the house he was born in, for “better prospects”.

The next day, the mother was horrified at what her son had done. But the father calmed her down and said, “That money went towards a good cause. I now know what kind of a man my son has grown to be. A man without integrity.”

How do you define integrity? Have you ever defined it? Let me help you.

Integrity is what you do when no one is looking.

In it’s purest form, it is a test of your actions when the world is not there to watch, judge or criticize. I don’t know about you, but my childhood was one of discipline as I waded my way through six years at a boarding school. It was made sure by someone that I took complete care of myself right from making my bed all the way to managing my studies efficiently. There was approval upon success and a scolding for every stumble. In short, I had someone making sure I grew up to be a responsible person. They tried their best.

But now as I live away from home in a city almost half a world away, I find myself to be free of constant supervision. My parents can not tell how I live my life now. Some of my friends envy this. I find it to be a burden. A heavy, yet a necessary one.

As I write this blog at 6:11am right now, I have no need to wake up early or go to school or do anything, to be honest. But because it is what I am supposed to do, because it is what my family entrusts me to do, it is what I must do. No matter how many alarms it takes.

When you find yourself in a situation where the only person aware of a decision is you, believe me, that is the toughest place to be. At that moment, “you” are the only one you can disappoint. But make the right choice and you will find a deep satisfaction like no other.

And here’s how. Most people that believe in you, be they family or friends usually hold you in a high place in their minds. They believe that you are a good person and that you will always do the right thing without bothering to find out whether you actually will. All you need to do is to become the person they already think you are.

If you take anything from this, take this.

A person with a whole lot of nothing to show for, but his integrity intact, has done quite well for himself.

-Harry