The Honor Code: Choosing What You Stand For

Part of our human struggle comes from our lack of certainty about who we are and what we want. You don’t get to feel solid and sure if you are just “winging it.” Waiting for the right time or situation more often than not leads to waiting forever.

Life requires real choices and real sacrifice. If you want an amazing career you need to plan to leave your current one. If you want real love, you need to be vulnerable, get over your fear/hurts and choose who you want.

With all things in life you need to decide and act. No one is going to figure that out for you and no amount of time is going to fix an uncertain, confused and scared mind. Action is the only antidote.

One thing that helps is an honor code. Writing down who you are & what you stand for. It is one of the most powerful things you can do. Want an example? Here is my code I wrote several years ago during some rough times. It has been like a mantra ever since:

“I am a warrior. I hold it down for my friends, keep my word to myself and carry any pain without blame, complaint or self-pity. I know I can generate happiness for myself in an instant through a warm gesture, a generous act or a forced, but real, laugh or smile.

I am honest but never cruel. You can trust what I say. I will communicate clearly exactly how I feel. You’ll never have to guess. Kindness is my religion, honesty my practice and generosity my action.

But I am a warrior, I do have limits and strong boundaries. I do not associate with rude, mean, greedy or selfish people. I loathe bias, self-righteousness, gossip, extremism and dogma, despite as a human I know I struggle with them too.

The desire for fame is a sickness I have little tolerance for. True beauty does not require attention. I avoid the emotionally selfish. I give freely and never keep score.

I will call out racism if I see it. I do not tolerate lies, by omission or otherwise, and will walk away and never look back if a friend insist on lying to me.

I am grateful for my struggles, hopeful about the future and willing to sacrifice everything for those I love and the things I stand for. You owe me nothing. True love does not ask for reciprocation.”

How To Construct Your Honor Code

The honor code is constructed by following several steps:

Write down the names of your heroes. Try to get at least three, but no more than 10. These could be people who are famous, historical or fictional. They can also be mentors, coaches and other influential people.

For each hero, write 3-5 words that most embody their essence and the reason behind your admiration.

Imagine you are at your Eulogy. A spirit sitting in the back of the room listening in on what people say about you when you were alive. What would you want them to say about you? What words would they use?

Flash forward to your death bed. Imagine yourself reviewing your life. What are the things you will be most proud of? What words describe this? (this one is optional as it is very similar to #3 above. To this one for extra inspiration if needed.

Take a look at the words, ideas and descriptors you used in questions two, three and four above. Notice a pattern?  Pull out five to 10 of those words or ideas that repeat again and again.

From the isolated words, write a 3-10 sentence paragraph describing in detail who you want to be.  Write this in present tense as if it is you today. This is a description of your “superhero self.”

Finally, write down your boundaries.  The things you will not tolerate from others. This is extremely important.  All superhero’s have the things they simply cannot abide.  Once you have your boundaries, include this into your honor code statement.

As a last step, you may want to also construct a Code of Conduct to go along with your honor code.  This is essentially your personal commandments that solidifies 5 to 10 ideals that represent how you will live your life.  Take inspiration from the words, ideas and descriptions you uncovered in constructing your honor code.  For more on the Code of Conduct, see this BLOG.

The images below summarize this exercise.  The first image gives a quick schematic of the honor code exercise.  The second image shows how my personal honor code was put together from the exercise in the first image.  The third image is how to construct your Code of Arms.

Nothing is more powerful than defining for yourself who you are, what you stand for and what you will fight, bleed and die for.

In times of fear, turmoil, confusion and pain, your honor code and code of arms will act like a lighthouse guiding you back to your reminding you of superhero self, giving you clarity and strength.


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