Duty and honour have a close relationship. In my last Toughen Up post, I mentioned the linguistic roots of these two words, and today I’m going to tell you a little more. When it comes to succeeding in your life’s purpose, it’s necessary to understand these two concepts and how they’re connected. After all, you hardly ever see one without the other.
From the Oxford English Dictionary (OED):
Duty: “something one has to do because it is morally right or legally necessary.”
Honour: “great respect”, “a clear sense of what is morally right”, “something that is a privilege or a pleasure.”
I find these definitions really interesting. The second definition of “honour” is almost identical to “duty”, which is notable in itself. But the first and last definitions of “honour” are the most striking to me: honour is used to pay “great respect” to the people who have earned it, and it’s “a privilege or a pleasure” to do it.
The biggest difference between duty and honour is even more interesting to me because it’s also one of the things that tightly bind the two concepts together. That difference? Enthusiasm.
I’ll elaborate. In addition to the definitions above, the OED defines duty as something that’s “done because of a feeling of obligation rather than enthusiasm.” But honour is all about enthusiasm. After all, when we have honour, we do the right things because we feel passionate about doing them—it’s a “privilege or a pleasure”. We don’t do them because we feel we should. We do them because we genuinely want to, and we genuinely care.
But when we’re doing the right thing, we’re doing our duty. An attitude of honour gives us the motivation to do it enthusiastically, without complaint. And that’s where the connection lies.
When I first started building my business, Lana and I spent a lot of time talking to and learning from Orrin and Laurie Woodward, and a number of others. These people unselfishly gave us their time and their experience, helping us to build a successful future for our family.
As we began to experience success, we felt an overwhelming sense of respect and honour towards these people—not only because they helped when we needed them, but also because they were a big factor in our success. We’re grateful to them.
In the military, we placed great importance on honouring the people who earned our respect. The people who paved the road ahead of us with hard work, bravery, and loyalty. The people who cared so much about doing their duty that they were willing to give their lives for their cause. We spend time learning about these men and women, and we honour them as much as we can.
Unfortunately, this kind of honour is often missing in business and family, even when it is well deserved. I’ll never forget the sacrifices that Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady made so that I could be successful. And whenever I can, I make an effort to show them how grateful I am. That’s honour.