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The readership of the Gremlin series has grown exponentially. This article is an expansion of the series with “the other side” or opposite of self-defeating behavior. GUARDIANS are self-esteem building character traits and behaviors. This is the first release of the guardian’s side of the articles. Guardians are symbolized by various styles of angel wings. Remember, feed your guardians and starve your gremlins!

Staying on the right path in life is not always easy, especially with your own personal gremlins. You can tame your gremlins by strengthening your guardians. Guardians in this sense are your inner strengths or positive character. You might envision them as the opposite of gremlins or self-defeating behaviors. Guardians for our purposes are self-esteem building behaviors and cultivating them displaces or neutralizes gremlins. You may have heard of the old adage, “Starve a fever, feed a cold.” Perhaps we could change it to “Starve a gremlin, feed a Guardian.” Guardians reveal themselves in various forms and as you may limit and minimize gremlins, you may unleash and maximize your guardians.


Consider the guardian Integrity which informs your personal character. Integrity has been defined as “doing the right thing even and especially when you are alone.” A person cannot have a little integrity as it is all or none. If one cannot be trusted then Integrity is not present in one’s life and character. Obviously, one may cultivate honesty and trust that will support the presence of Integrity. One challenging fact about Integrity is that if others perceive it has been lost, then it is difficult to regain. Integrity is received in one of four ways:

  1. One is granted Integrity on the basis of title, position, or status.
  2. One is loaned Integrity on the basis of references from friends who are perceived to have Integrity.
  3. One has earned a high level of Integrity over time one decision at a time.
  4. One is earning Integrity little by little after a failure due to a lack of Integrity.

John is a high school student and is having ongoing conflict with his mother. John has been a compliant and reasonably obedient son most of the time until recently. He got in trouble with some friends when he cut class one day. They had been drinking beer in a house that was under construction when the police happened to show up. Of course John was charged with several crimes and the one incident caused his mother to lose trust in him. In her eyes he had lost integrity. He had done everything he was supposed to do for the last three months but she still would not allow him to do things with his friends. He wondered how long it would take for him to earn his Integrity back.

Another challenge regarding Integrity is that it is seen and evaluated through the opinions of others. While it is true that “Integrity is doing the right thing even when you are alone,” when there is a failure of one’s Integrity, there may be severe consequences. Private failure may become public knowledge resulting in a loss of reputation leading to failure…a loss of Integrity.

Young people gradually earn trust as they demonstrate their honesty and consistency regarding their word. After a time of proving themselves, they may realize the presence of Integrity. However, after graduating from high school the student may find that entering college or a job, they find they have to almost start over earning trust that eventually adds up to Integrity. The point is that we go through stages of life and career in which Integrity must be earned and re-earned based on the perceptions of peers and superiors as well.

Gremlins as self-defeating behaviors are constantly eating away it the foundation of one’s integrity. One must tame the gremlins and empower the guardians. Integrity is one of the chief guardians and STAY ON THE RIGHT PATH.


Do you possess Integrity in your life? What will you do to cultivate a  life of Integrity? How have you noticed that you lived through waxing and waning integrity through passages of life, education and work?


Dr. Tom Cocklereece is CEO of RENOVA Coaching and Consulting, LLC
He is a pastor, author, professional coach, leadership specialist, and is

a member Coach/Teacher/Speaker for the John Maxwell Team

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