I received a note the other day from a friend in Los Angeles. He’d just finished reading The Old Money Book and wanted a few print copies for friends and family. (Please note: the hard copy version of the book will be out this fall. Thank you all for your interest.)
Living on the beach in Malibu, he’d never consider himself Old Money even though his family’s been neck-deep in the entertainment industry for generations. He deals in pop culture, a place where last week is ancient history and everyone is constantly on the prowl for that Next Big Thing, be it an actor, screenplay, song or trend.
He rarely gives in to philosophizing about anything. Still, he couldn’t resist offering his own pearl of wisdom. It was given to him by his father, who, after listening to a long-winded justification of why his teenage son had done something he shouldn’t have, replied, “Why don’t you live your life so you don’t have to explain anything?”
The rhetorical question stuck. My friend decided he’d make choices that were self-evident: clear, unambiguous reflections of his values that required no justifications, explanations, or elaborate defenses. He noted that his grandfather had done business with Frank Sinatra, who, when asked why he didn’t object to some things that had been written about him in the press, said, “Never complain. Never explain.”
But I think this code of behavior goes beyond that. If we consistently make choices that can stand on their own in the light of day, that require no qualifying asterisk, that we don’t have to justify to ourselves or anyone else, then we’re probably acting with integrity. It’s not that we aren’t able to articulate our thinking or motivations behind our behavior, it’s simply that, most of time, our actions are self-evident. They represent our values, our priorities, and our character.
We should aspire to act as if we couldn’t speak. To let our deeds shout our beliefs from the mountain top, so that, when we do speak, we only have to whisper to be heard.