Code Of Honor

The Code of Honor contains 15 tenets that we strive to live by. It is intended to reflect some basic core values that all the men can rally behind, support and use as a benchmark for the ways of being we can expect from one another.


The wood chosen to reflect this tenet is Cedar – Cedar represents purification. It is used in rituals designed to get close to the pure source. As an evergreen, cedar is resistant to the elements and is durable; it stands the test of time.

The symbol that represents this tenet is the shield emblem of the Sterling Institute of Relationship – The Sterling Institute is the example of an organization that has been instrumental in bringing men together for a common purpose to embrace a common vision. That vision is reflected in the Men’s Division Code of Honor.

This stick also bears three crow feathers. The crow in Native American tradition is the “keeper of the law.”



To Defend – to take a stand for something without regard to the personal cost.

Code – a set of accepted rules and regulations that are applied to a specific set of circumstances.

Living by a code should not be mistaken with honoring one’s terms. Terms are personal. Each man must determine where his line in the sand is and then stake it out as his terms from which he commits not to waiver.

A code however represents a shared agreement. By agreeing to defend a code, any code, you make an agreement with many others to adhere to a set of rules and ways of being that you can each be counted on to fight for.

A code is a unifying force that empowers men to apply their personal terms in the context of a higher vision that allows for a level playing field. It becomes the unspoken “truth” that allows men to know what ways of being and actions others can be counted on for.

In order to defend the code, one must:

  • Understand the value of having a code of honor in ones life;
  • Understand the power behind getting the buy in of your community to breath life into that code;
  • Make sure the standards and rationale behind the tenets of that code are clear and compelling;
  • Keep the code (and its value) alive by living it, teaching it and calling out those who are not living it; and
  • Provide a space for those who stray from the code to regain their honor.

I think it is important to take a step back and keep something in mind; reclaiming one’s honor means a man has made a commitment to take a stand for something and he has broken his word. The operative point being “his word”. I’ve seen too many men try to impose their code on a man and insist that he needs to reclaim his honor for violating their code. However, the first thing to ask is, “is this a code the man signed on to?” The power in any code is the degree of buy-in. When I am enrolled into a construct, I begin to take ownership of it; the deeper the level of ownership the greater the passion in defending it.

Think of how you felt as a kid when your parents imposed rules on you; when a boss imposed some unreasonable edict at work, when a cop wrote you a ticket for doing 80 on a deserted highway at one in the morning when you were rushing to get home. Those were all times you had to comply with someone else’s rules; you were not in on the rationale and probably weren’t asked if you agreed to abide by the standards you were being subjected to. You probably felt frustrated, angry and motivated to somehow undermine the powers that be.

Compare that to a situation where you worked with others to come up with a common frame work of how you would be with each other. You each had a chance to articulate what a rule meant and why it was important to you. Rules that are given to you can come off as just words, but put those words into a personal context and they take on life.