Jun 20, 2008

Posted by in Living By A Code | Comments Off on The MDI Code of Honor – The First Tenet

The MDI Code of Honor – The First Tenet


My suspicion is most men who are new to MDI are unfamiliar with the Code of Honor.  The Code was created by the men of what was then known as the Sterling Men’s Divisions. It contains 15 different tenets.  It was intended to reflect some basic core values that all the men could rally behind, support and use as a benchmark for the ways of being we could expect from one another.  It is part of the legacy of who we are. Many men still tote around MDI cards that contain the Code on the back.  I would like to bring it back into the consciousness of all of our men.

                In the late 1990s the men of the Western Region created an ark which contained 15 different pieces of wood, one for each tenet. Each stick was made of a specific type of wood and bore a specific design that reflected the way in which the men of the Western Region related to the tenets of the Code of Honor.   The ark has since made its way throughout North America and men throughout MDI have had the opportunity to connect with it.  I had the opportunity to safe guard it for a while and was moved to write a little about my relationship to each tenet.  This is the first of those tenets.


Commitment Before Ego

The wood that best reflects this tenet is Manzanita – A strong hearty tree that grows in some of the most barren environments.  Where other things have difficulty surviving, Manzanitas continue to grow and branch outward. A commitment driven by a powerful context will flourish like the Manzanita tree.

The symbol that represents this tenet is the Coyote – In Native American mythology, the Coyote is the trickster, the clever one who often tricks himself with his own cleverness.


       Many people consider the notion of having an ego to be a bad thing.  I disagree. In my mind to be successful, a man must possess a strong and healthy ego.  I certainly have had one for as long as I can remember. However, for me the trick was not to let my ego consume me.  Through my work in MDI I have learned how to master my ego.  It was not always a pleasant process.  So the discipline I found myself embracing was asking, “Why am I doing something?”

Before I had developed a set of core values, I often found myself drawn to doing what felt good without giving any thought to the ramifications living my life without a clear sense of my commitment I found myself being led by whatever happened to be at hand in the moment (usually responding to someone else’s crisis to further bolster my ego).   My life was more reactive than proactive.  Short term being reactive seems more fulfilling, lots of instant gratification.  But being older, I have really come to appreciate that being proactive has allowed me to create a sustainable legacy.

  In my mind the tenet Commitment before Ego demands two disciplines: 

·  To practice and possess a firm understanding and adherence to my purpose and commitment; and,

·To maintain a healthy relationship with my ego that relies on an iron mastery of it. 

 Many people equate commitment to making a pledge or promise to do something.  Actually commitment is action.  Commitment shows up not in what I say in the passion of a moment or even the things I do when spurred on by others or when things are going well.  The benchmark of my commitment is evidenced by my actions when the underlying reasons behind my words seem challenged, when I no longer wish to be held to what I said, when there appears to be no reward for following through, when quitting looks like an attractive option;  this is where the Ego has fertile ground to play its tricks. 

                        There are many definitions and theories about the ego.  Although Native Americans embody it in the form of a Coyote, it is more elusive than that.  It is usually easier for others to see Ego governing our actions than it is for us. When I find myself needing to defend or explain my actions, it is usually a good indication that my ego is engaged.  Rarely do I feel compelled to justify those actions that our driven by my commitment because the actions speak for themselves.  When I am operating out of commitment, I am more interested in doing than discussing. 

           This tenet is not Commitment over Ego; it is Commitment before Ego.  By that we mean let your commitment lead your ego rather than the other way around.  The need to look good is Ego before commitment.  The desire to do good is Commitment before ego.

         There is nothing wrong with doing things because they feel good.  I am a firm believer in the notion of “enlightened self interest”.  I do good not because I am altruistic and aspire to be Gandhi.  There is always something very definite in it for me.  The key is to know what that pay off is so that I can keep my ego in check and be honest with myself about my motivations.  Fortunately, the men around me continue to help me to find ways to feed my ego while adhering to a higher commitment than just my personal self interest.










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