What influences the way you view a social, play, or work environment?
It’s the culture. Merriam-Webster® defines culture as “a way of thinking, behaving, or working that exists in a place or organization (such as a business).”
Whether it’s playing for a team, belonging to a group, or working in a business, the culture largely determines if we are happy and productive. That’s why businesses and organizations everywhere are trying to improve their culture. They know that positive environments are important. When people feel included, appreciated, and encouraged; when they work together to achieve goals, they are happier and more invested. That produces better results.
This isn’t string theory. This is common sense, right?
Who wants to play or work in a negative culture where managers are one-way communicators, harping on mistakes and demanding more work, and teammates or co-workers are constantly criticizing and complaining?
Character is All About Culture, Too
The biggest “no one is surprised by this” story-of-the-week has been the charges of corruption brought against officials of FIFA®, the world governing body of soccer. It’s more of “what took so long”. Rumors of bribes and payoffs to officials have circulated for years.
The culture within a sport, organization, or business sets the tone for the actions and behaviors that will follow. If its culture does not continually practice integrity, then it hardly can be wondering “what happened?” when unethical conduct is uncovered. It’s clear that FIFA® has lacked the desire or the will to change. That speaks to the organization’s leadership. It’s within such cultures that individuals, such as Lance Armstrong, find excuses to behave unethically. It gives them the “everybody else is doing it” cover to rationalize behavior they know is wrong.
Our daily routines are built upon the habits we form. Doing chores, eating properly, exercising daily, being on time, and meeting deadlines, won’t become ingrained until we develop the discipline and continual practice needed to make them habits. They have to become the default behavior.
This is true for character as well. It’s habit-forming. Telling the truth, showing respect, keeping your word, behaving ethically and morally, caring about others, and being trustworthy, require the same discipline and repetition as any other habit we form.
Here at Even Field™, we emphasize integrity because we believe that its value cannot be overstated. Being a person of character whom others trust is a tremendous asset.
We all are part of a global movement toward more transparency and collaboration. Thanks to social media, poor behavior that might have remained mostly hidden, now is more likely than ever to become public knowledge.
Who will want to be associated with individuals, teams, organizations, or companies involved in cheating, corruption, bribery, or other unethical conduct?
Ethics is a Choice
What each of us has to decide is the way we want to live our lives. How do we want to be viewed by others? What kind of person do we want to see when we look in the mirror?
If personal integrity is important, then we have to make it a focal point in everything we do.
We can provide our kids the learning environments needed to develop character skills that will guide the way they behave on and off the field. By emphasizing character and integrity in youth sports, we can help kids develop positive character habits at an early age. Not only will this lead to happier, more productive lives for our kids, it will have a ripple effect.
The positive behaviors they exhibit will influence the other members of their peer group. They will help raise levels of respect, responsibility, honesty, fairness, and compassion within these groups.
One peer group at a time, cultures of integrity will be formed that benefit everyone.
Photo Credit: Norio NAKAYAMA via Flickr
Founder & Executive Director
Chuck Wilson is an award-winning host, interviewer, and commentator. He was an original host on ESPN Radio and was with the network for close to 17-years. In 2007, Wilson was named one of the 100 Most Influential Sports Educators in America by the Institute for International Sport. He is the founder of Even Field.