Taking his seat in his chambers, the judge faced the opposing lawyers. “So,” he said, “I have been presented, by both of you, with a bribe.”
The lawyers squirmed as he continued. To the one on his left he said, “You gave me $15,000.” To the other, he said, “And you, gave me $10,000.”
The judge reached into his pocket and pulled out some cash. Handing it to the first one, he said, “Now then, I’m returning $5,000 and we’re going to decide this case solely on its merits.”
Where is a person of character when you need one?
A whole and healthy life — a life of character and integrity — is shaped from the inside. Author Anthony J. D’Angelo says that “the greatest gift you can ever give yourself is a little bit of your own attention.” Authenticity has little to do with outward appearances, or even reputations. It’s all about giving your life, especially your inner life, the attention it needs so you may grow into a person you can fully respect. You might say it’s an inside job.
But becoming that person doesn’t happen all at once. An authentic and genuine life grows like a sturdy tree. And like a tree, it grows slowly.
Every time you make a different and better decision, it grows a little. Every time you choose to do the right thing, even when nobody would find out otherwise, it grows a little. Every time you act with compassion, relinquish your right to strike back, take a courageous stand, admit fault or accept responsibility, it grows a little.
A life of character is like a well-tended tree. And if your life is a gift given to you, then what you do with it is the gift you return. But be patient.
No work you’ll ever complete;
no project you’ll ever attempt;
no skill you’ll ever master;
no book you’ll ever write;
no race you’ll ever run;
no sculpture you’ll ever create;
no task you’ll ever perform;
no structure you’ll ever build;
nothing you will ever do —
is more important than the life you shape
one day at a time.
Tend to your inner life, give it the attention it needs, and I promise you one thing: you won’t be disappointed with the results.