When No One is Looking

By: Lisa Marie

I was at my daughter’s BJJ class last week and it was complete chaos. Kids, parents, noise, shoes, bags, water bottles all over the outside of the training room. It’s a big class - picture about 15 kids ranging from 5 to 17. There are usually about 3 instructors teaching and the main instructor is former military and a black belt. He’s incredibly poised and commands attention. On this particular night, the class was so big it was split between two rooms. I was watching how he was navigating the situation and noticed that without fail, he bowed every time he re-entered each room. This small action was a sign of his character - who he was when no one was looking. It would have been so easy to forget, to move on, to ignore that sign of respect - but he didn’t forget or neglect this practice - not once.

The art of bowing in BJJ is about paying respect. Respect for everyone who came before you, your instructor and teammates, and the mats. It also is the moment you clear your mind from all the problems and stresses of life, and focus entirely on your art.

Proverbs 12:1 says To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction. I’ve thought about this for years as I’ve made discipline a requirement in my daily habits.

Discipline is more than sticking to a routine or habits. It is about paying attention to who you are when no one is looking - and more often than not, someone is always looking.

It’s walking by a piece of trash that’s not yours and picking it up, it’s making your bed each morning as a symbol of organization, it’s not cutting a corner, It’s doing right by someone who wronged you - it’s all the little things that add up to the moral fabric of who are you.

While the world may not always witness our private moments, cultivating a strong moral character is essential for personal growth, building trust in relationships, and living a life of authenticity. In this blog, we’ll explore the importance of building your moral character when no one is looking and provide practical tips to help you on this meaningful journey.

Define Your Core Values

Building moral character begins with understanding your core values. We have talked a lot about business core values - but what principles and beliefs are most important to you? Spend time reflecting on these values and make a list. Examples might include honesty, empathy, kindness, respect, and perseverance. Your core values serve as the foundation upon which you’ll build your moral character. These are your non-negotiable in a relationship.

Practice Self-Reflection

Regular self-reflection is essential for personal growth and moral development. Set aside time to contemplate your actions, thoughts, and decisions. Ask yourself tough questions like, “Did I act in alignment with my values today?” or “Could I have handled that situation differently?” Self-awareness is the first step towards building a strong moral character. I have found a lot of motivation and guidance from Ryan Holiday’s The Daily Stoic. This is a great video on how to self-reflect like the pros: https://youtu.be/ZVeUIclaMTE

Make Ethical Decisions

In every situation, strive to make ethical decisions, even when no one is watching. Ethical decisions are those that align with your core values and uphold principles of fairness, honesty, and respect. Remember that your choices reflect your character, whether they are visible to others or not.

Practice Empathy

Empathy is a cornerstone of moral character. It involves understanding and sharing the feelings of others. Practice empathy in your daily life by actively listening to others, considering their perspectives, and showing compassion. Cultivating empathy helps you build more meaningful and authentic connections with people.

Keep Promises, Even Small Ones

Consistency in keeping promises, no matter how small, builds trust and integrity. Whether it’s meeting a deadline, following through on commitments, or honoring your word, every promise you keep contributes to your moral character. Conversely, breaking promises erodes trust and can damage your reputation.

Foster Gratitude

Gratitude is a virtue that can strengthen your moral character. When you appreciate the good in your life, you’re less likely to engage in behaviors that compromise your values. Make it a habit to express gratitude for the people, opportunities, and experiences that enrich your life.

Cultivate Self-Discipline

Building moral character often requires self-discipline. Train yourself to resist temptations that may lead you astray from your values. Practice delayed gratification and learn to prioritize long-term benefits over short-term pleasures. Self-discipline is a powerful tool for strengthening your moral compass.

Seek Accountability

While building moral character is a personal journey, seeking accountability from trusted friends, family members, or mentors can be invaluable. Share your goals and values with them, and ask for their honest feedback and guidance. Having someone to hold you accountable can help you stay on track and make moral development a more tangible process.

Building your moral character when no one is looking is a noble endeavor that leads to personal growth, stronger relationships, and a deeper sense of fulfillment. Remember that it’s not about seeking recognition or validation from others but about aligning your actions with your core values and principles. By defining your values, practicing self-reflection, making ethical decisions, showing empathy, keeping promises, fostering gratitude, cultivating self-discipline, and seeking accountability, you can become a person of strong moral character who consistently acts with integrity, even when no one is watching.