You never know when someone is watching you. On Halloween I ran in the Dead Sprint 5K race in with a good friend. It was a race for me to shake off the rust from an injury, and fun to see all the folks who ran in costumes. I accomplished my time goal, and settled in for a post-race breakfast and pint of Guinness for some time to catch up with my buddy. While we were chatting a woman approached me and said "excuse me sir, I just wanted to say thank you." This took me back a bit, I didn't know her from a hole in the wall. She continued, "you kept me going in the race, I wanted to slow down and walk, but I could see your green jacket ahead, I just kept telling myself, 'keep up with this guy', and you helped me run a really good race." At some point I know she passed me, because I remembered her and I were thanking the police officers at all the intersections for helping out. I always try to thank the volunteers and officers during races, and she said she did too. The she added that she had just gotten off a long overnight shift at the hospital, and had no sleep. She went straight to the race, and was just hoping for the best. A little while later she came back over "hey, I placed third in the women's group for my age and got a medal! So, thanks again for the motivation!" While I did joke I would take some credit for her medal, it was so nice of her to let me know I helped without knowing.
This whole experience draws me toward the thought of how you act when no one is watching. Simply acting how you should when you are at work, in class or around friends and family is only a partial measure of who you really are. What you say you believe is just words. All these public events or statements are not the real test. The real test is when no one is looking, when you have the opportunity to compromise your beliefs, values and ideals to cut a corner, save some money, or just avoid a difficult situation. This can be as small an effort as starting the next pot of coffee at work, when you take the last cup, picking up some trash someone else left behind, or leaving an area cleaner than when you arrived. These are small examples of behavior that really set who you are and build your integrity. If you try your best when no one is looking, the times folks are looking will come that much easier, your personal integrity will shine through and be natural.