What Are You Doing When No One is Looking?

Throughout our kids’ lives we have talked to them about giving 100%, showing respect, acting with integrity and developing a moral compass. When they were young, we were there to observe and remind them: behave, hustle, and say please and thank you. Sure they have made mistakes, behaved poorly in certain situations, and there are probably times they did not give 100 %. But all in all, I think they are good kids!

As my son Mike left for college, it dawned on me: this is it, he is finally on his own. He needs to make decisions and give it his all without anyone watching and with all the distractions of his new found freedom.  As a parent, I do sometimes worry how they’ll behave when no one is watching.

Pride in ownership
Last weekend was parents’ weekend at college. We got to see Mike in action after his first 6 weeks of freedom and with his new independence. It was unbelievable. I think my daughter summed it up well when she exclaimed, “Dad! Michael is mature!?!?” She was right, and it was honestly, a little unexpected. So much has happened to and changed in  that high school senior who left us in August. Well, If we ignore  the view inside his dorm room. (There is still some work to be done there!)

But there is definitely a change in him. He was already a good kid, but now we can see a man developing. We saw the pride as he showed us campus, talked about his classes, and what’s expected of him as a baseball teammate. He is proud of handling things, and I can tell he is excited by all of it.

Character over conformity
As business leaders we also have power, independence and authority. It’s a lot of responsibility, but do we use it wisely? Are we excited about what we are accomplishing and how we are growing? Or are we embarrassed by what we are doing with our independence and power? It’s a true test of character: what kind of leader are you when no one is watching?