A few years back, I was at a dinner meeting with a colleague in NY. We caught up on strategy, goals and collaboration among our teams. The food was decent. The company awesome. As a year plus, has passed since I dined out publicly I look back on the Joy of breaking bread with a good person and being present for the meal. Like most of us, getting back out into the world is something I crave and look forward to post COVID!

Back to NY, when the waitress brought the check, I picked up the tab. I placed the receipt in my bag where I stashed all receipts while work traveling. When I got back to Washington, I began working on my expense report. To my surprise, I realized I had both copies of the dinner receipt (merchant AND customer). “Oops.”

Having worked as a waitress I know the drill. If your “drawer” comes up short, it comes out of your tips. I thought about our waitress and how she could be negatively impacted by getting a charge back of $100 plus dollars and a generous tip. (I LOVE tipping – more on that in another chat…)

If you have ever had to manage and submit expense reports, you know how tedious they can be. Like most tasks, I was hurried and only had a “window” of time to get this done. Never clog up the reimbursement process!

In addition to the waitress and the restaurant being out of pocket, I thought too, that “Woah, my credit card has not been charged, but I can submit this receipt and will be reimbursed the $100+ bucks.” For a split second.

Next, I called the phone number on the receipt and after a few disconnections and waiting on hold I finally reached someone who understood what I was saying. “I mistakenly took both receipts, and therefore need to pay you now, for my meal.” He took my credit card number and all was well.

I share this story because on a daily basis, we are faced with multiple opportunities to show up fully, or not. We have choices to do the the right thing (we ALWAYS know what that is if we sit still for a minute) or to do the wrong thing (we also ALWAYS know what that is when we sit still for a minute.) Essentially, our lives consist of repeated chances to decide who we are, who we want to be, and act accordingly, or not.

I was recently told by a Senior Executive “Lisa, you always do the right thing, whether someone is looking or not.’My insides lit up when I heard these words. Not because it was news to “me” but because receiving the message that who I aim to be is actually consistent with someone‘s perception.

Pleasing others is NEVER a worthy goal and in fact the process of self actualization (according to Abraham Maslow) requires us to be “Independent of the Good Opinion of Others.” But in this moment I felt proud, I felt seen, I felt in alignment with the integrity I aspire to live with.

Most of the “right” and “wrong” actions we choose are fairly anonymous to others, and often unseen. But WE know. Aggregate and compound your “fork in the road” decisions major, and minor and ask yourself: “Do I do the right thing whether someone is looking or not?”

Regardless of the answer (#nojudgment), explore how you feel when you recall different choices you have made. Are there things you would have done differently if your life was being live streamed on a virtual TV program? When you tally up, are you negative $100+ bucks or submitting for reimbursement on a check you never paid? See how this exercise can draw you into how you might use the answers to make future choices.

As Bette Midler beautifully sings “God is watching us, from a distance...”

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