Mensch - Yiddish/German word that means "a person of integrity."
In conversation with a distraught father about his 'difficult' teenage son, I said, "Right now, I wouldn't be concerned about what he decides to do with his life or whether he has goals. My first order of priority would be to make sure he is a mensch."
Mensch is not a word I use often. It just spilled out of my mouth and expressed exactly what I meant. This father needed to be able to respect his son for his decency, integrity and goodness --and then for his ambitions and goals.
It is easier to be a mensch when life is on an even keel. How hard is it to be good, kind and generous when there are no stresses pushing on us? When things are rocky, however, our integrity can be tested. Our own fears, lack of confidence, insecurity and impatience triggers the reflex to protect and defend our interests and conserve our energy. And this can lead to less than mensch-like behavior.
In my opinion, trying to raise a mensch should be a central focus and preoccupation of family life. As adults, it continues to be an on-going effort: at home, at work, in the community and in our social life.
Cultivating mensch-like behavior is critical to our success and excellence at work, as well as with family and personal relationships. There is always room to strengthen character traits such as as humility, authenticity, empathy and generosity. And, at the same time, continue to:
My family, relationships, movement, nature, flexibility of mind, exploration of alternative perspectives & openness are central to my life.