Take 5 – 9 January 2017 by Mr Lee Kah Wai
Good morning Gessians, at various times we hear of others or even ourselves explaining why certain things didn’t turn out the way it ought to be. I am not sure the following sounds familiar:
1. When someone is late for school – He or she might say: “My alarm didn’t go off!” or “My bus was late!”
2. When someone didn’t hand in his or her homework – He or she might say: “I came home late last night!” or “I forgot!”
3. When someone didn’t keep his or her promises – He or she might say: “But the other person also didn’t keep his!” or “We are all human!”
Today, I like to talk about INTEGRITY, which is one of our four school values. Integrity means “Upholds honesty and stand up for what is right and good in what I say or do.”
One way I find helpful to understand integrity is “I have integrity when what I believe, what I say, and what I do, are in complete agreement.”
This is a high calling for all GESSIANs. We believe we are uniquely talented, but sometimes we describe ourselves using demeaning terms like “I am too dumb to understand this!” Or we say we will study hard for our upcoming tests, but we decide to watch youtube channels till late at night. Integrity is easy to understand; but very difficult to live up to! Yet, integrity is an important value that we must continually hold on to, because it defines who we are.
I find it extremely helpful when I understand developing integrity in myself as very similar to developing physical muscles. You grow it by exercising it, not by talking about it, or explaining it! Just like you grow muscles by working them, you develop your integrity by exercising integrity during situations that call for it.
Let me share a story with you. Many years ago, a boy was particularly attracted to an electronic game installed in a calculator. In those days, that calculator cost $50 (a bowl of dumpling noodle cost $1.50). It was very expensive, but the boy really wanted it, but he knew his parents would not allow it. One day, he accidentally discovered where his mom kept a bundle of $50 notes for daily expenses. That day, when he was all alone in the house, he decided that he would just take one $50 note to buy the calculator, and no one would ever knew about the missing $50 note. One moment he took the $50 and was preparing to leave the house, and his conscience pricked him.
He put the note back. Few minutes later, he remembered the beautiful calculator, he changed his decision and took the $50 note again, and prepared to leave the house again, but again his conscience pricked him and he put the note back. These back and forth dilemmas went on for a few times, before he finally decided that he must do the right thing – that is to never steal because he will not want to be a thief, even if he is not caught! That victory over self was so life changing that he remembers it till today! – And that boy was me.
That event years ago strengthened my integrity. Of course, through the years, my integrity continued to grow. Sometimes I failed the test – ie my beliefs, my words and my actions are not in complete agreement. I learnt from the experience and continue to work on strengthening the muscle of integrity. If I can do it, so can every one of you.
Here are some practical tips to help you exercise and strengthen your integrity:
1. Set worthy goals. It could be as humble as “I will do ALL my class assignments and homework promptly!”, or “I will come to school on time every day!”, or as ambitious as “I want to score a L1B5 of 8 points!”, or “I want to learn swimming and pass my Survival Course Test!”
2. Write out my goals and pin it up at a place so that I can be reminded of my goals, and the underlying beliefs every day.
3. Examine my lifestyle – what do I need to give up and take up so that I move nearer to my goals? What are the wrong choices and habits I must stop; and what are the good choices and habits I must start? Write 1 thing I will start doing, and 1 thing I will stop doing.
4. Exercise my integrity – Practise to ensure that my beliefs, my words and my actions are in complete agreement when tested by situations.
5. Make the best choices with what you are endowed with or have. I will not grumble, but be grateful.
As you exercise your integrity, by choosing to do the right things during the most trying moments, your muscle of integrity will be stretched. The muscle fibre may tear, but after some rests, the fibre will grow stronger, and you will have developed stronger muscles.
When you decide to come to school each day on time, by setting your alarm 10 minutes earlier, and leaving the house 10 minutes earlier, you are working your muscle of integrity. Some days you may fail, but you will arrive in school early more often than before. When you decide to hand in your assignments promptly, you are working your muscle of integrity. You will find that more and more of your assignments are handed in well done and on time. That’s how you can develop your integrity.
So start afresh TODAY. Believe that you can strengthen your integrity. It’s a lifelong journey – never give up, because as we work on growing our muscle of integrity, we will become more and more a GESSIAN of excellence, standing and significance.
Lee Kah Wai