It’s All Code to Me

“When faith is lost, when honor dies,
The man is dead!”

                                              – John Greenleaf Whittier

When I arrived home Wednesday evening, I quickly turned on the TV in hopes of catching the end of the baseball game; I was too late. The Astros had defeated the Red Sox and the commentators were focussing on the upcoming game to be played Friday in Houston.  Not being a fan of post-game commentators, I grabbed the channel changer and stumbled upon an old favorite, The Last Samurai starring Tom Cruise.  For the next two hours I watched as Cruise’s character, Captain Nathan Algren, embraced 19th century Japanese culture and gradually assimilated into the Samurai Warrior Way.  Known as the Bushido Code, it identifies eight virtues to guide a Samurai’s life:

  1. PERSONAL RECTITUDE – One’s power to decide upon a course of conduct in accordance with reason and without wavering.

  2. COURAGE– Doing what is right.

  3. BENEVOLENCE – Displaying ​​love, magnanimity, affection for others, sympathy and pity.  These traits are the highest attribute of the human soul.

  4. POLITENESS –  The expression of a benevolent regard for the feelings of others.  In its highest form politeness approaches love.

  5. SIMPLICITY – Luxury was thought the greatest menace to manhood, and severe simplicity was required of the warrior class.

  6. HONOR – A vivid consciousness of personal dignity and worth.

  7. LOYALTY –  Remaining loyal to those to whom we are indebted.

  8. CHARACTER –  Behaving according to an absolute moral standard, one that transcends logic.  What’s right is right, and what’s wrong is wrong.

Admiral William McRaven could be considered a modern day Samurai. Following his  graduation from The University of Texas at Austin, McRaven joined the Navy and earned the distinction of Navy SEAL.  For the next 37 years he commanded at every level, traveled the world and witnessed both the worst of humanity and the best of mankind.  In his book, The Hero’s Code, he writes, “I came to realize there is a hero in all of us.  It is an innate code that has been there since the birth of mankind… is a moral code, an internal code of conduct that drives the human race to explore, comfort, inspire and laugh so that societies can flourish.”  The Code is simple, but powerful:

  1. I will always strive to be COURAGEOUS; to take one step forward as I confront my fears.

  2. I will work to be HUMBLE; to recognize the limits of my intellect, my understanding and my power.

  3. I will learn to SACRIFICE by giving a little of my time, my talent, and my treasure to those in need.  Every day, without fail.

  4. I will be a person of INTEGRITY; every decision I make and every action I take will be moral, legal and ethical.

  5. I will be kind and COMPASSIONATE to at least one person every single day and expect nothing in return.

  6. I will never give up on matters that are important to me, my family, my country, or my faith.  I will PERSEVERE.

  7. Whatever job I am given, whatever DUTY I am bound by, I will do it to the best of my ability.

  8. I will use my unique talents to inspire others and give them HOPE that tomorrow will be a better day.

  9. I will use HUMOR to comfort others, and never be afraid to laugh at myself.

  10. No matter how great or small the offence against me, I will try to FORGIVE.  I will be the victor, not the victim.

Chris Clothier is an entrepreneur, writer and speaker.  He proposes that a personal Honor Code is something you design and take up for the sake of improving yourself, your life and the lives of those around you.  To this end he suggests the following be considered:

  1. BENEVOLENCE – Seeking opportunities to do good; be it charitable giving or helping those in need.

  2. WISDOM – Your dedication to learn, grow, and deepen your understanding of people and the world around you.  To use your wisdom to serve others.

  3. COURAGE – It’s  doing the right thing, even when it might cost you.  It’s taking a leap even when the prospects are scary.  It’s moving forward.  It’s doing what you’re afraid of, and taking necessary risks.

  4. HONOR– You keep your word, never say anything of which you would be ashamed, and do everything you can to guard a good reputation.

  5. HONESTY – Is a dedication to the truth.  It’s a willingness to be honest with others, even when it is difficult to do so.  It is also being honest with yourself.

  6. DILIGENCE– Is a careful, dedicated persistence to work.  It is the recognition that reward is the result of effort.  It is a commitment to moving forward and putting forth one’s best efforts.

We live in an era of connectedness.  When we are viewed as honorable, people trust our words and actions.  Honor helps define who we are, and serves as a guiding light for our growth and character.  Embracing a personal Code of Honor is not something that died with the passing of the Samurai or following the Age of Chivalry, nor is it limited to those in the military or select organizations.  Rather, it is a way of life that enables each of us to be better versions of ourselves, and in doing so, contribute to a better world.