When I was 11 years old my daily routine was to go to school, come home for two hours by myself to do homework, and then go work at my family’s business before coming home late at night with my parents to finish up whatever homework I had left. During those two hours when I was home alone, the last thing I wanted to do was homework! To me it was more fun to play and I could always do my homework that night. If I had to stay up extra late to do homework and was tired the next day, it didn’t hurt anyone but myself, so I figured it was okay. When my parents asked me if I did my homework during my two hours off, I’d lie and say, “Yes, of course!”
At some point, I realized I could have a few friends come over while I was home alone and no one would know as long as we cleaned up the house after we were done playing. So I did this several times and everything seemed great. That is until my mother came home one night and found that her favorite watch was missing. The watch was a gift my father had given to her when they were young, and it had cost him very much to buy it at the time. I knew how much it meant to my mother and I was mortified when I realized that one of my little friends must have stolen it earlier that day while we were playing hide and go seek.
My mother started asking me questions and my father joined in. I’d already trapped myself with my little white lies and I began to cover up everything with even more white lies by saying I didn’t know where the watch was. My parents knew something was up, though, and before long the jig was up. I had to tell my parents that I had been having friends over. I had to tell them I was lying about doing my homework every day. More and more little white lies came to the surface, and when I told my parents that one of my friends must have stolen the watch, they didn’t believe me. They figured that I had been playing with the watch and carelessly lost it, or that I had given it to one of my friends. They didn’t believe me because I had been caught in a lie, and that was the first time I learned the importance of integrity.
My father has always said, a person’s word is their worth. I heard him say it, even as a little girl, but it had never struck me as the absolute truth before. I realized then, when you’re a person who lies, no one will believe you, even when you are telling the truth.
So, I stood there, trying to figure out how I could get the watch back, but my parents wouldn’t help because they didn’t believe me. I felt horrible about the watch being gone, but I felt even worse realizing that my word was worthless. On that very day I decided I would always make sure there was meaning in my word. I knew if I lied, I was worthless.
Imperfect Action is better than No Action.