Different military branches hold to a moral/ethical code, an ethos, or in the case of the Vikings, laws. These codes and laws dictate and determine decision making, actions of the individual, and overall quality of life. Most branches of the military require their cadets to learn and memorize their branch’s code of conduct. What fascinates me is that most codes have the same foundational qualities. Here are a few that I have found to be most influential to me:
- Serve with honor and integrity on and off the battlefield
- Read to lead, ready to follow, never quit
- Take responsibility for your actions AND the actions of your teammates
- Excel as warriors though discipline and innovation
- Never shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong, and morally straight, and I will shoulder more than my share of the task
- My courtesy to superior officers, neatness of dress, and care of equipment shall set the example for others to follow
- I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy
- Honor is the bedrock of our character
- Honor is the quality that empowers Marines to exemplify the ultimate in ethical and moral behavior:
- To never lie
- To never cheat
- To never steal
- To abide by an uncompromising code of integrity
- To respect human dignity
- To have respect and concern for each other
- The heart of our core values is courage
- It is the mental, moral, and physical strength ingrained in Marines to see them through:
- The challenges of combat
- The mastery of fear
- To do what is right
- To adhere to higher standards of personal conduct
- To lead by example
- To make tough decisions under stress and pressure
- Commitment promotes the highest order of discipline for unit and self
- It instills pride, concern for others, and an unrelenting determination to achieve a standard of excellence in every endeavor
There is a theme from these lists. Firstly, integrity and honor are of the utmost importance. This is then followed by moral and ethical behavior. Finally, self discipline and personal growth are essential. It’s about pushing yourself to be better every day. Another quality that is valued is the care for others and not just self. These codes of conduct provide a foundation for living. Imagine how our society, our world, might change if we taught these principles to our children and lived them out in our own life.
I never had people in my life express to me the importance and value of having a code of conduct with which to live by. In fact, I never knew the value of building and defining a personal set of rules and regulations on which I should build my life. As a child, I was told to do the right thing and respect other people. These are good principles; basic, but good. I was never told why I should do these things. It was as if I was supposed to just know the value and importance of doing these principles. Now that I have my own children, I am building on what I was taught, but instilling in my children the understanding and purpose of having a personal code of conduct.
It wasn’t until recently that I found value and meaning in living my life with a code of ethics and morals. I don’t mean to say that I didn’t have a set of morals and ethics in the past. It wasn’t until four or five years ago that living with a code meant something to me. I started reading books from former Navy Seals, Special Forces, and prominent leaders. I kept seeing the same theme throughout each of their stories – living life with a code of conduct brings direction and meaning to one’s life. It provides a lens by which actions are taken, decisions are made, and words are spoken. A personal code of conduct helps put the focus on our actions, our choices, and our words. It means we learn to take personal responsibility for ourselves.
My personal code of conduct is as follows:
- Do the right thing no matter the cost
- Take ownership for my actions, choices, and words
- Respect everyone, even if they do not respect me (I struggle with this one)
- Be disciplined in all areas of my life
- Serve others
- Above all, seek after the ways of God and live according to his Word (I struggle with this as well)
So what is your personal code? What principles do you build your life on? I would love to read your personal code of conduct, and if you are struggling with building a personal code of conduct, I would love to help you create one and encourage you in your journey of living it out.
As always, stay humble and serve well!