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Opinion: Honor and respect lead the way to a prosperous future

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Editor’s note: This column is Part II in a three-part series on character development in culture and the workplace.

Click here for Part I.

Click here for Part III.

Is it important to be a person with honor? Unfortunately, today’s culture focuses on how much money is in your bank account, what kind of car you’re driving, if you have the latest brand name of clothing, and how many likes and followers you have on social media.

All of those things have some level of importance, but when people talk about you or your business practices or, even more importantly, when your life comes to an end, will they say, “He had an incredible portfolio and was considered a wealthy man.”

Please don’t misunderstand. Believe me when I say that I want to secure a substantial bank account and drive a very nice vehicle. I also hope that people would remember me as being a person of honor and a man who has a moral obligation to do more than just talk about it.

At the West Point U.S. Military Academy, cadets learn about and prepare for the ethical demands of officership by living under the dictates of an honor code, which states, “A Cadet will not lie, cheat or steal, nor tolerate those who do.” Its purpose is to foster a commitment to moral and ethical excellence to prepare them to be leaders. The Cadet Honor Code is a foundation of character development.

We need to teach this to our young people at home, school, sports and at church. These young people will be future leaders of our community and nation one day. It’s up to us as parents, teachers, coaches, and community and business leaders to set the example.

I’m proud to know some local leaders who have done great things for Springfield. Calvin Coolidge once said, “No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.”

Springfield is blessed with some great business leaders who have given back to our community.

Respect starts with me as an individual. I must first have self-respect, and I want to be respectful of others. I am a black belt in Shotokan karate and was a national champion, Junior Olympic coach and a sensei. Shotokan is a strong traditional martial art, and I loved that you learned immediately that respect was a priority, regardless of your rank.

Call me old fashioned, but it upsets me to see the lack of respect for elders, parents, teachers and, most recently, law enforcement. I know of teachers who have been physically threatened by middle school students, and when reported, school officials were too scared to enforce discipline.

People have every right to protest but not to stand 6 inches away from police screaming obscenities in their face. We have lost respect for people in office and even people with different political views. Our American flag and the great nation it represents has been disrespected beyond belief. This is unacceptable.

We will never be able to strive as a community or nation until we start respecting one another – starting with our youth. If an elderly person comes in and there isn’t a chair, you get up and offer your seat.

We need to show respect to our parents, teachers, coaches and America.

We, as adults, should show respect for our flag, law enforcement and, regardless of who’s in office, for the office of the presidency. It’s like the military. You salute the rank, not the man.

Author Roy T. Bennett said, “Attitude is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make, makes you. Choose wisely.”

Jeff Collins is a motivational speaker and founder of the Missouri Winter Games and co-founder of Champions Committed to Kids. He can be reached at


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