Each month, we receive a short newsletter with our Phoenix city services bill. I usually breeze through it before putting it in the recycle bin. Most of the time, the information in it doesn’t concern me.
This time, though, the city included a great story featuring an employee who went above and beyond the “call of duty.”
In one of the terminals at Sky Harbor Airport, an employee by the name of Robert Rodriguez was sweeping the floor when he happened to notice five one-hundred dollar bills underneath his feet. Without hesitating, Mr. Rodriguez picked up the cash and notified his supervisor, who then notified the airport police. They reviewed the security camera footage in that specific area, and identified the traveler who lost the money.
Fortunately, the traveler was still in the terminal, and the police were able to locate him and return the money. It turns out that the traveler was a student who was on his way overseas to study abroad, and the money was to be used for food during the trip. Before the flight departed, the traveler was able to meet Mr. Rodriguez and thank him for his honesty.
Integrity is the Cornerstone of Leadership
Mr. Rodriguez could have just picked up that money and said, “Finders keepers, losers weepers!” Do you remember learning that phrase when you were young? He could have shoved the money into his pocket and went on with his work, his mind racing with thoughts about what to spend it on. I’m sure he could have thought of a million things to use that money for. Instead, he did the right thing. What a great example of integrity!
In our society, we are bombarded by sensationalistic stories of people who lack integrity. All you have to do is turn the TV on and find a popular “reality” show, or look at some of the headlines of those magazines at the grocery store checkout aisle. Our society seems to reward that type of behavior with overwhelming publicity.
Our younger generation is exposed even more to these stories through non-stop feeds on social media. Wouldn’t it be nice to see more stories like Mr. Rodriguez’s pop up in their media feed, rather than a story about some “reality” star changing her hair color twice in one week; or a sports “hero” that assaulted their girlfriend/spouse during a drunken or drug fuelled rage?
It would be nice, however, not necessarily realistic. The sad fact is, until our society changes what it values, we are probably going to be stuck with these types of stories for quite a while.
What steps can we take as leaders and parents to combat the negative influences from society?
- Be Involved. I know…this sounds like a “no brainer.” Being involved is more than just asking how their day went and then going to your separate corners in the house. Actually engage in conversation. It may take a little work, especially if your family is not used to it…but it can be done. If they have issues that come up in the conversation, offer your input and examples from your experience…in a supportive way. They may get that constant social media feed all day, however, you are there in flesh and bone in front of their face. Take advantage of that personal influence!
- Establish a “social media break” or “media fast” during part of each day. Create a time where everyone in the house (including you!) puts down the phone, and turns the electronics off. Use the time to engage with each other. Maybe have “game time,” family meditation, or make it a time for the family to decompress from the day’s events. If the weather is nice outside, maybe take a hike or play a sport as a family.
- Surround children with positive and encouraging influences. Find quotes and stories to send them throughout the day. There are several “Quote of the Day” websites that you can subscribe to and forward to them. Find out what they respond best to – do they like power quotes, encouragement, faith, or affirmations? John Maxwell has a daily email with a Leadership Word of the Day. I highly recommend it. It can really make a difference in their day!
You can probably think of several other ideas to add to this list. Whatever you do, keep it consistent. If we are to make a positive influence with our younger generation and create a brighter future for our society, we need to consistently work at it. Be the example of integrity that Ralph Rodriguez displays in front of the young people in your life. The effect you have may last for generations to come.