It’s not a matter of knowing the difference between right and wrong. Most people know that difference in every situation they find themselves in. The difference is really whether you have the mental toughness to do the right thing, the character thing, when everyone, including you, wants to do the wrong thing.
Will you search for the justification that excuses your taking the wrong turn or dig deep and find the mental toughness to stay on, or get on, the path of good character?
Everything I write, everything I share, is in preparation for that moment. The moment when you do not feel like studying or lifting; the moment when you have to decide to blow off practice or suit up; the moment when you are tired, bored or in pain and you can quit or press forward; the moment when the world needs you to step in when someone is getting picked on and it’s easier to ignore the trouble; the moment when you can have one more or drive home safely; the moment when you face the more talented and yet can still find a way to win.
I coach for that moment. I teach for that moment.
These are the moments that will define you (graduate/ dropout, honor roll/average, champion/quitter, good citizen/convict). It is in these moments when championships are won and lost. It is in these moments when lives are won or lost. It is in these moments when respect, most importantly self-respect, is won or lost.
It is these moments when your character and mental toughness are the only thing preventing you from making the wrong decision. Particularly when the wrong thing is easier, which is most often the case.
The more character and mental toughness you have, stored up in your bones, reinforced by past decisions made correctly, the stronger your habit to take the right action, maybe without even thinking about it. Without character and mental toughness, you will just do what is easy for you, and that might cost you and others. The right decision today will help you make the right decision later in life in a defining moment when the stakes might be far higher.
Below are quotes about doing the right thing, especially when most people are trying to get you to do the wrong thing; say when you are on a jury with 11 other people who do not share your opinion, or you are faced with skipping out on commitments to join in the fun. If you lack the mental toughness to avoid wrong in the little things, you will not have the mental toughness when the bigger decisions need to be made.
Mental toughness does not come on suddenly, like muscle it is built up with hard work over time. Every decision you make is a little chance to get better.
I just want you to know what is possible.
Thank you for showing me that sometimes you have to forgo doing what’s popular in order to do what’s right.– Mo’Nique , 2010 Best Supporting Actress in her Oscar acceptance speech.
What’s right isn’t always popular. What’s popular isn’t always right.- Howard Cosell
Are right and wrong convertible terms, dependent upon popular opinion?– William Lloyd Garrison
I wish for you the courage to be unpopular.-Charlton Heston
The courage in journalism is sticking up for the unpopular, not the popular. -Geraldo Rivera
The history of progress is written in the blood of men and women who have dared to espouse an unpopular cause, as, for instance, the black man’s right to his body, or woman’s right to her soul. -Emma Goldman
The right way is not always the popular and easy way. Standing for right when it is unpopular is a true test of moral character. -Margaret Chase Smith
There are many qualities that make a great leader. But having strong beliefs, being able to stick with them through popular and unpopular times, is the most important characteristic of a great leader. -Rudy Giuliani
Follow the crowd and you will never be followed by a crowd. -Unknown
Real courage is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. Doing the unpopular thing because it’s what you believe, and the heck with everybody.– Justin Cronin
The reward for conformity was that everyone liked you except yourself. -Rita Mae Brown
The average man is a conformist, accepting miseries and disasters with the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain. -Colin Wilson
Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail. -Ralph Waldo Emerson
The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking. -J.K. Galbraith
The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself. -Friedrich Nietzsche
To be dragged in the wake of the passive flock and to pass a hundred and one times beneath the shears of the shepherd, or to die alone like a brave eagle on a rocky crag of a great mountain: that is the dilemma. -Praxedis Guerrero
Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ But conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but because conscience tells one it is right.–Martin Luther King
Forgive him, for he believes that the customs of his tribe are the laws of nature. -George Bernard Shaw
Finding the occasional straw of truth awash in a great ocean of confusion and bamboozle requires intelligence, vigilance, dedication and courage. But if we don’t practice these tough habits of thought, we cannot hope to solve the truly serious problems that face us – and we risk becoming a nation of suckers, up for grabs by the next charlatan who comes along. -Carl Sagan
Just because something is tradition doesn’t make it right. -Anthony J. D’Angelo
You laugh at me because I am different; I laugh because you are all the same. -Daniel Knode
A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest. -Paul Simon
I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year’s fashions. -Lillian Hellman
Those who stand for nothing fall for anything. -Alexander Hamilton
If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing. -Anatole France
People still retain the errors of their childhood long after they have accepted the truths needed to refute them. -Condorcet
There are some men who turn a deaf ear to reason and good advice, and willfully go wrong for fear of being controlled. -La Bruyère
The most damaging phrase in the language is: “It’s always been done that way.” -Grace Hopper
Habit rules the unreflecting herd. -William Wordsworth
The strongest man in the world is he who stands alone. Henrik Ibsen
If everyone is thinking alike then somebody isn’t thinking. -George S. Patton
How glorious it is – and also how painful – to be an exception. ~Alfred de Musset
Be neither a conformist or a rebel, for they are really the same thing. Find your own path, and stay on it. -Paul Vixie