Aug 18, 2008

Posted by in Living By A Code | Comments Off on 4th Tenet of the Code – Keep Your Word

4th Tenet of the Code – Keep Your Word

The Code of Honor was created by the men of what was then known as the Sterling Men’s Divisions.  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.


 In the late 1990s some men from the Western Region (the Bay area around San Francisco) 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.  What follows is the treatise that was created as a companion piece to the ark.


Keep Your Word


The wood chosen to represent this tenet is the Fig.  The fig tree is mentioned in some of the most ancient of text:  the Bible, the Koran, and the Book of Buddha as source of unexpected yet reliable sustenance.  Even in the most inhospitable of climates it always fulfills its promise of providing an abundance of fruit.


The symbol for this tenet is a Key – The key symbolizes a promise to unlock and make available something that has been placed in trust for safe keeping… but only when asked.  A man’s word is the key to manifesting his power.





       This tenet is pretty straightforward and really is the cornerstone of what we do in MDI.  It is hard to overstate the importance of ensuring that your actions are consistent you’re your words.  Anyone can understand the importance of this tenet and can easily articulate what it means.  Yet each of us has failed to uphold this tenet from time to time.  Why do I sometimes fail to keep my words, even when I had every intention of honoring them when I spoke?  It is one of the easiest pitfalls to succumb to.  I always want to please and seem agreeable.  If some one asks, “Can you do me a favor and ……..”  My initial reaction is almost always to say yes.  I have however started to employ a simple discipline of giving myself 20 seconds before responding.  I’ll explain why in a moment.



All we have as we really have are the bonds and agreements created by our words and re-enforced by our deeds.  I have come to embrace my word as the public expression of who I am and the sacred essence of what I am prepared to take a stand for.  It is MY word; it belongs to me and can only be co-opted if I permit it. If I treat my word as something of value, I am less likely to give it away freely and without thought.  If I prove through my actions that my word means something, I have found that it has a similar affect on others.  They too will take seriously what they agree to. How many times have you been in a situation where you have to remind someone of something they promised to do and the retort is, “yeah but…… fill in your favorite excuse?”  Few things are more infuriating and over time the “yeah buts” will poison a relationship.


So now, before I commit to anything I do my 20 second drill. I ask myself:


  • Is this even something I want to do?
  • Is this something I can do?
  • What do I need to know or have to get this done?
  • What can possibly get in the way of me completely this commitment?
  • Is there anything I want in return?


All of these are critical questions and one flows logically to next.  The most important is of course the first.  I never commit to do anything I don’t want to do.  And since I never believe in never, in the rare moment when I do commit against my better judgment, I make sure that the last question is addressed to my satisfaction.  I have learned that just because I choose to be charitable does not mean I have the right to expect my largesse to be reciprocated.  If I am expecting some sort of karmic pay back, I need to ask for it and I need to ask for it before I commit.  I don’t expect to have the right to stop mid-task and ask for a favor.


Another discipline that I find invaluable is to make sure that what I intend to say is understood that way.  But that’s for another day.


For now I will keep it simple.  Choose your words wisely and be prepared to stand behind them.


Say what you mean and mean what you say.

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