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Just Call Me “Old School”

Just Call Me “Old School”
Born on October 13, 1965 and almost 50 years young, I am categorized as a “tweener.” My generation came between the end of the Baby Boomers and the beginning of Generation X. I don’t quite fit into a specific generational philosophy, however, it seems that things that I grew up understanding as simple truths of character and integrity are now considered “Old School” ethics.

I wasn’t part of the “Greatest Generation” but I sure learned a lot from them (my parents and grandparents.) You know, “Old School” qualities like honoring your father and mother; respect your elders; say please and thank you; ladies and children first (this includes opening doors and pulling out chairs); do unto others as you would have them do unto you; address adults (older than you) with Mr., Mrs., Sir or Ma’am. And there are consequences for not following the rules (society’s or your parents’ rules)!

Maybe I’m missing something, but it seems we are living in an era when the very principles that built the greatest country, now seem to be lost. I’m dumbfounded by the ridiculousness of a culture that does the opposite of what the history of man has proven to be true since its existence. Some simple “Old School” timeless truths and beliefs such as:

How to bring back “old school” characteristics and traits

  • You sow first, and then you reap.
  • Nothing replaces time and good old-fashioned hard work…nothing!
  • Successful work ethic means, “The job ends when it’s done.” Not “being done at the end of your job.”
  • Competition is good…and absolutely necessary. (Only the strong survive.)
  • Teachers and parents had the authority to teach a child right from wrong not the other way around.
  • Gym class was mandatory in school (physical activity was critical to health and well-being…still is!)
  • True success has no shortcuts, immediate gratification and it’s not an entitlement…it is earned!

Commitment, sacrifice, perseverance, dedication, honor, integrity…these work. They’ve worked for those that have applied them for thousands of years. In Dr. Stephen Covey’s, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People; he starts the book off explaining that every written text on success written over the past 200+ years, the first 150 years focused on the importance of “character.” In the past 50 years or so this focus has shifted to “values.”

He goes on to list seven principles that, if established as habits, will help a person achieve true interdependent “effectiveness.” Covey argues this is achieved by aligning oneself to what he calls “true north”—principles of a character ethic that, unlike values, he believes to be universal and timeless. If you haven’t read it, please do.

Every day I wake up thinking about what more we can do to fulfill our vision, that all human beings discover their full potential. Though we have an entire world to help, it starts with the man or woman staring back at you in the mirror. If we are to be successful in achieving this, I am convinced, it takes “Old School” ethics to do so.

Work hard, love one another, and pay it forward. The world needs it!


Brett Penager