I have, many times.

In fact, there is one in particular; I remember it as if it had happened yesterday.

There were five of us when it happened.

“Ding,” the sound of the entry bell, as we entered the convenient store.

On most days, such sounds didn’t bother me, but this time it was different.

“You guys go up front and we’ll wait here,” one of the kids whispered.

As he and I made our way toward the front of the store, my hands began shaking.

I have never done this before.

I followed him, as he made his way to the front of the store.

“Do you have any more Twizzlers?” he asked the store employee.

“Let me check in the back,” she responded.

As she made her way to the back of the store, I noticed his left hand reach for the stack of candy bars in front of us.

“Here, take them,” he whispered.

My hands were shaking, as I grabbed the candy bars out of his hands and shoved them straight into my pocket.

Rinse and repeat, one week after another, we would steal from the same store.

Until, one day, one of us was caught by our parents.

The next thing we knew, my friend and I were being questioned by his parents whether or not we stole from the convenient store.

“No, we didn’t steal,” both of us, repeated over and over again.

It wasn’t until years later that I noticed the consequences of compromising my value of, “honesty”.

What started, as a harmless act, to us at least, turned into a habit of not telling the truth for years to follow.

I found myself lying, in situations where I didn’t have to do so.

“What is the harm of not telling the truth, if YOU know that it is not the truth?” I thought at the time.

But, it wasn’t until years later that I found an answer to my own question.

The act of “lying” was becoming my “truth”.

It was easier to tell a “lie” because that is what I felt more comfortable with.

A friend of mine during our podcast interview once said, “Your environment always wins.”

Well, this time my environment was certainty winning, as not only was I not always telling the truth, but also my closest friends were not telling the truth.

My actions were influencing them, and their actions were influencing me.

But, “honesty” wasn’t the only value I compromised.

The more I began to look at the relationships at hand; the more I noticed all of the other compromises I was making.

One of those was, “authenticity.”

I was choosing to wear a mask to avoid judgment. I continued to wear that mask to be accepted within my tribe.

As part of this cycle, I was also compromising, “learning.”

“How can you develop a meaningful and deep relationship with another person, if you are not able to fully be there?”

I felt as if I was cheating some of the people by not fully showing up.

I thought, “How could I expect them to be fully honest and transparent, if I wasn’t doing the same?”

Years went by before I was able to change those early habits.

It was during those years; I learned that I always have a choice and there is no choice in life too small to have an impact.

Today, I choose to stay true to my values, as they influence my thoughts, my actions, my beliefs, and the direction my life takes.

I can’t help but wonder, “Are you presently living in accordance with your values?

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