The results of a recent survey of high school students in the United States found that more than two-thirds of those surveyed had cheated at least once on a high school exam. That’s a pretty significant number. But what is far worse is that most of those kids didn’t feel that they had done anything wrong! In reality, I’m certain that peer influence has a lot to do with this type of behavior, but more than half who admitted cheating believe they acted the same way their parents would have – because they’ve witnessed them cheating to get ahead. They also see it happening with famous celebrities, their athletic heroes and in politics, but don’t get me going on about those folks.

It seems that with all the traits, or “assets” as one organization terms them, we as parents try to instill in our children, the one that is glaringly absent or severely diminished is ethics.

The Search Institute in Minneapolis, MN has identified forty key external and internal assets that kids need to properly mature and become solid contributors to society. If you’d like a copy of the list you can request one from me by youing the contact button at the top and ask for 40 Assets.

Some of the key assets on that list which relate to the formation of human ethics of the highest quality are:

• Positive and responsibly behaving adult role models
• Peers who model these adults
• Honesty
• Integrity
• Self-esteem

There are quite a few more which thread together the fibers of who we become, but if you don’t have integrity, you have no foundation on which to build and develop what is commonly referred to as “character”.

The Josephson Institute of Ethics has created a website, that details “The Six Pillars of Character”.

Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship. If there’s any doubt that as an adult you might not be “walking the talk”, the site has more details about each of these values and how you can incorporate them into your daily life.

Remember, it’s that time of year when many of us make New Year’s Resolutions. It’s never too late to reflect, renew and polish ourselves as role models. Either way the impact you have on others is considerable.

Brian Howe is a professionally-trained executive and business coach, writer and speaker, who owns ThinkTank Coaching. He is also a Certified Mediator, and holds the highest human resource certification, Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR). He has worked with over 300 business owners and professionals, coaching and consulting with them on leadership development and other aspects related to people in business. He can be reached at (770) 922-6007 or via his website