If you were secretly recorded, would you be proud of what you said? Especially if the whole world suddenly could see you and hear your exact words?
James O’Keefe has struck again with his recordings of conversations that reveal how people think and talk in private … as opposed to their public image and persona. This time the video victim was Ron Schiller of NPR. Last time O’Keefe stung ACORN with his phony prostitution ring.
This post isn’t about O’Keefe’s tactics, or NPR’s … or ACORN’s rightness or wrongness.
This is about character. This is about the world in which we live, where every word you utter may be recorded and possibly revealed to the world. It should be a wake-up call to all of us realizing that what is said in private is really no longer private. It’s a wake-up call for me that my public and private persona must be 100% harmonious.
I grew up in an era where it seemed that what one said publicly and what one said privately could sometimes differ as long as one didn’t really mean it. Politically incorrect jokes and use of colorful language were often accepted in casual and private situations … where people felt that everyone understood that no harm was intended. My own father, a man of great integrity, told me 35 years ago when I went to work for him in a traditional blue-collar job, “It’s okay to swear at work, but we don’t talk that way at home.” It was the times and the era.
When I moved to California at age 22, I slowly began to realize that saying one thing and trying to live another way was inconsistent. I started to shift my thinking. I began to moderate my words. And several times during my career, I learned the hard way that words do come back to bite you … stupid is as stupid does!
Now we live in a world where most people have audio and video recording capabilities on their cell phones. Undercover reporters like O’Keefe are looking to shine the light on hypocrisy. And once and for all, I can no longer allow myself to even think such inconsistencies, yet alone voice them … even in private.
Character is defined as the aggregate of an individual’s persona and traits, reputation, and behavior qualities. H. Jackson Brown, Jr. said, “Our character is what we do when we think no one is looking.”
One of the reasons we loved the fictitious Forrest Gump was because his private words and actions perfectly matched his public words and actions … there weren’t any inconsistencies. Forrest Gump was a man of true character.
Are your words and actions consistent in both your private and public persona?
What harmless things do you say in private that are actually harmful?
Are you willing to do what’s necessary to be known for your Gump-like character?
Next Blog Title: Initiate Good Communication
Next Blog Date: March 17, 2011