Be a Red Shirt Warrior

I went on a walk with my dad earlier this week, and we were discussing the importance of finishing strong. During our walk, he shared a story about the Red Shirt Warriors of the Lakota Indian tribe that really resonated with me.

You see, the Lakota Indian tribe employed a rigorous test of endurance and honor that potential warriors needed to pass in order to join an elite society known as the Red Shirt Warriors. They had four days to recover a rolled up red sash from the top of a high cliff. No food or water could be carried, and only a knife was allowed to be used for protection.

The most important part of the test was the rolled up red sash. So, to test both the endurance and honor of the potential warriors, the society planted another sash halfway up the cliff at a common resting spot. The difference with this sash was that it was shorter than the one at the top of the cliff, where the potential warriors knew they needed to go.

When a potential warrior returned at the end of the fourth day, they had to immediately present the rolled up red sash to the society by holding it over their head and unraveling it. If the sash was long enough to touch the ground, the society knew they had climbed to the top of the cliff, thus passing the test. But if the sash fell short, the society knew they had not gone to the top, and had instead attempted to cheat their way into the elite group of warriors.

To me, this story clearly illustrates the two choices we have in everything we do: we can choose to finish strong and do it right, or we can choose to take shortcuts to get it done. When we make the choice to finish strong and do it right, we are taking the path of the Red Shirt Warrior. When we make the choice to take shortcuts to get it done, we are likely cheating others in some way, but more importantly, we are cheating ourselves.

How we finish says a lot about who we are. Let’s be our own version of the Red Shirt Warriors and strive to pass the red sash test in our daily lives, regardless of who is or isn’t watching.

Some questions to consider: What does it mean to finish strong in everything you do? What kind of person do you need to be to pass the red sash test? What kind of effort will you give when no one is looking? What kind of job will you do when no one will know the difference anyway?