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Million-dollar integrity

April 25, 2010

How important is integrity to you?  Would you be honest, tell the truth, even if a million dollars were at risk?

That was the decision Brian Davis had to make last weekend.  You may not know Brian, but his actions are what should earn him a place in the history books for exhibiting positive character.

Last weekend, Davis, a pro golfer on the PGA tour was playing against Jim Furyk in a playoff at the Verizon Heritage tournament.  Without going into all the details only golf-a-holics enjoy, let’s just cut to the chase.  Davis is just about poised to win his first-ever PGA tournament, when a shot he was taking out of some weeds went awry. He ended up hitting a stray weed in his backswing…a mistake that would cost him two penalty strokes, if he were caught.  A weed…not likely anyone would see his club hit something so small, even in high-def.

But, Davis saw it. And he called the penalty on himself. He admitted to the errant swing, with the net result that Davis conceded the game to Jim Furyk who then went home with just over $1M prize.

While golf is known for being the only sport that doesn’t require a referee because participants should hold themselves to rules of fair play at all times, even within a game known for sole-sportsmanship this feat is amazing.  If it were you, and a million bucks was on the line, would YOU have pointed out that penalty?  It’s probably easy for us all to say, “Sure!” but would we REALLY have?

This episode in golf is a metaphor for what we all should learn: that character and values are in play all the time, no matter what we are doing and who is around.  It’s like the saying, “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear, does it make a sound?” We should be true to the person we are, anytime, anywhere, even if no one is looking.  Our soul, our character, our conscience should be worth at least a million dollars because once our reputation and honor is gone, it is hugely difficult to redeem, if it can be done at all.

I find it an interesting contrast to other things occurring in the golf world, where poor choices and lapses in character have cost one golfer, literally tens of millions of dollars, not to mention other “collateral damage.”  It’s amazing to see someone like Brian Davis pass such an amazing test of character and be a positive role model for why doing the right thing is always the right thing — because it’s the right thing to do!

Hats off to you, Brian.  You may not have that million dollar purse but what you have is…priceless.

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