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Moral Drift - How Did I Get Here?

The first step to solving a problem is admitting you have one.

In the early 2000s, I realized I was not the person I wanted to be. If you asked me in my younger years, I would have told you my goal was to be a good leader, a good husband, and a good father. By 2000, I was in a leadership position in a Fortune 50 company, I was married, and I had two kids. But I was failing in all three of those roles. I didn’t choose failure. I drifted into it.

At 32 years old I was asking myself “How did I get here?” I now know that answer. It is called Moral Drift. Few of us set out to be poor leaders, spouses, or parents. But many of us drift into that. Understanding Moral Drift helps me do better now. That understanding also allows me to warn others and give them a blueprint on how to avoid it in their own lives.

Avoiding Moral Drift requires intentionality. Nobody drifts into success in life. But we do drift into those moral failures that can bring us all down. We drift into becoming the leader we wouldn’t want to follow. We drift into being the spouse we never intended to be. We drift into being the parent that our kids shouldn’t emulate.

Many people know the type of person they should be. Our family, schools, churches, and communities reminded us of what truly makes somebody into a good person. In my case, my parents instilled in me the ideas of being kind, truthful and loyal with the ones you love. At West Point, we had the motto: Duty, Honor, Country and four years of character training and development. I was blessed to have that background. But I still drifted.

How did I drift? The same two ways we all drift.

Inattention: When we stop paying attention to our character, I promise you, we are setting ourselves up for moral failure. When a muscle is ignored and not exercised, it gets weaker. We may not notice it at first. But at a certain point that muscle will fail us, and we will suffer pain and injury. The problem is, when our character fails, others feel the pain as much or more than we do.

Rationalization: So often, when we have the choice between the harder right choice versus the easier wrong choice, we begin to rationalize away our character. We tell ourselves it’s not a big deal, or it’s just this one time, or it’s how things get done. Therefore we settle for something easier and compromise who we always thought we wanted to be. Rationalization gets easier the more you do it. Each time we make a choice, it makes it easier to make that same choice again.

How do you avoid the Moral Drift that overtook my life?

Pay Attention: Look in the mirror and decide today whom you want to be. We talk about Six Habits of Character - Courage, Humility, Integrity, Selflessness, Duty, and Positivity. Do you want to be that type of person? If you do, then you need to keep your eyes on the goal. Fill your mind with things that reinforce those habits. Talk with others about what it means to be a Leader of Character who exercises those Six Habits of Character. Then start making daily choices to exercise those muscles - to strengthen them and prepare them for the character tests in your future.

Quit Rationalizing: Exercising character just like physical exercise is never easy. Knowing who we want to become and what parts of our character we need to exercise, cuts down on our opportunities to rationalize. If you know what you stand for and who you want to become, and commit to being that person, no amount of rationalization will cause you to drift away from that goal.

Yes! This is easier said than done. I get it. But, the first step in solving a problem is to admit that you have one. Now the work begins. Don’t drift into the character failures that so many of us, including myself, have drifted into. Stop and pay attention. Then quit rationalizing and choose the harder right.

When you begin to make these choices, you will reinforce or create those Habits of Character that will lead you to become the leader, the spouse, and the parent you want to be and everyone else wants you to be as well.


● Where has Moral Drift occurred in your past?

● What can you do to prevent that from happening again?


Here is a quick assessment that will take you 5 minutes to figure it out. Nobody will ever see your results but you.

Warning: If you are not going to be honest with yourself this is a worthless assessment.

To take the assessment use the QR code above or go to

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