Honor is not a definition to be understood. Honor is a code of living defined by experience. Honor cannot just be a thought, it has to be expressed and practiced. It’s not like The Secret where somehow your thoughts are converted into molecules and sent out into the universe; it’s dead in the water if it’s not utilized. Honor does not exist without action.
We throw “honor” around like we know what it means, but in reality, if you’re like me, it’s just one of those fancy words from folklore. “You should honor and respect your elders.” Okay.
We all know honor. We think it, but let pride get in the way; to the point we don’t recognize people closest to us.
It is in the character of very few men to honor without envy a friend who has prospered.-Aeschylus
Honor stirs in your gut, it’s a spiritual substance that revolts at being kept. It’s most often passed on from your family, or learned from a culture.
This past week I got a good dose of the meaning of honor from a doctor in Glendale, CA. Dr. David Bostanjian was a successful surgeon in Armenia, and came to the United States like many of his brothers and sisters because of political instability. When he arrived in America, his credentials and his experience meant nothing. He had to start from scratch.
He enrolled back into school just to get back what he had. He was 42, and was rejected by every medical residency program because he was competing with students fresh out of medical school. How would he be able to keep up with the twenty-somethings? Based on a professor’s recommendation, he dropped everything to go to Chattanooga, TN. He was accepted but warned he was on a 3 month probation, and if there was one complaint, he would be out of the program. He went from being top dog in Armenia, to obeying and taking orders from students, assistants and nurses.
He had zero money and was at the mercy of residents 15 years younger than him, but he told me he honored them because they had completed the first year, a path he had not taken. Did you catch that? Even with years of experience in surgery, he humbled himself to someone younger because they completed an experience he had never done. Honor can be given at any age and to any age.
One night he went out for drinks with the senior and chief residents. Honor is lavished through sacrifice. Despite having no money, he picked up the $250 bar tab because he wanted to honor them. Today, he’ll tell you it was worth every penny. Honor is an action, but the heart behind it matters most.
Bottom line is, honor is applied. How can you practically apply honor to your life?
On a practical level, honor can simply mean obeying your parents. How can obedience be a benefit? The guy who’s refined the skill growing up will have a leg up in the marketplace because obeying parents leads to honoring and obeying employers.
Toughest one for us guys. For years I couldn’t keep my mouth shut because I always had to be right. Honor can mean just shutting up and listening. I’m sure there were moments Dr. Bostanjian wanted to say he was right because he already practiced years as a surgeon, but he restrained himself and kept his mouth shut. Sometimes honoring might mean listening and being open even when you are sure you’re 100% right.
The Greek word for honor is timé, which could mean “price paid” or “value.” When Dr. Bostanjian picked up the bar tab, he was making a sacrifice. He paid a price to honor the seniority he respected. Honoring someone is going above and beyond, and if you really respect someone, it means giving outside your comfort zone.
Honor isn’t kissing butt, but it is giving an authentic encouragement. Once again it, it can be given at any age and to any age. Have you complimented your manager or boss lately?
Needless to say, Dr. Bostanjian has been extremely successful. The secret ingredient to his success? Honor. Even today, it’s easy to note the amount of respect his staff, his patients, and his colleagues have towards him. He can call any of his chief residents from Chattanooga, TN and they will pick up at any time.
Honor is simply the morality of superior men. –H. L. Mencken