“Don’t do something that you would not want to appear on the front page of The Washington Post.”
Pick your favorite newspaper, as this was one the used while I was working in Washington, D.C., early in my career.
The simple statement delivers sound advice. As always, the evidence of our character is made on what we do when we think no one is watching. Even though we know this to be true, there are still many failures of character that occur. One of the most recent examples is what happened with several Secret Service agents in Cartagena, Colombia.
The content of our character is always on display with:
- Our actions taken or untaken
- Our words spoken or unspoken
- Our choices made or unmade
When we “think” no one is looking, we should use the “headline” notion as a trigger to think through the choices and impacts more clearly.
There is something that needs to be added to this approach, I believe.
Another spin on the adage may be:
“Do something that would appear on the front page of The Washington Post, making you and others proud and inspired.”
A great test at the end of the day and week would be asking: Did I do anything positively front page worthy?
It is a quick sanity check way to ensure we are working on the things that matter the most and that we are making noteworthy progress in accomplishing our personal mission and philosophy.
In fact, maybe each week, we should do something that would be front page worthy for each section of a newspaper. Think about it:
- Front section: Our big new story of the week, highlighting a big challenge overcome, issue resolved, relationship enhanced, or milestone achieved.
- Metro section: Our big community story of the week, outlining how we made our immediate or social community better.
- Life section: Our big personal well-being story of the week, featuring how we improved ourselves through what we read, ate, or made us generally healthier in mind and/or spirit.
- Sports section: Our big athletic activity of the week, underscoring what we did to exert ourselves in an effort to ensure we keep fit.
- Business section: Our big financial or operational success of the week, outlining how the fruits of our efforts are being used, saved, and given.
Maybe, just maybe, designing our life activities on doing things that are front-page worthy in each of these areas is a good way to live spiritedly, purposely, actively, and charitably.
What headlines would you like to see in your life?