I paused during a recent hiking trip at Lake Tahoe to record this video on the definition of the word Sincerity.
Character First defines Sincerity as eagerly doing what is right with transparent motives. Lake Tahoe has some of the purest water on the face of the earth, up to 99.994% pure and totally transparent. Although the etymology of the word sincerity is disputed, one legend it that it comes from two Latin words – sine and cere – which mean “without wax.”
As the story goes, the Greeks made the best pottery in the land. In an attempt to mimic their success, certain Roman potters copied the Greeks but had inferior materials and/or craftsmanship. Consequently, their pots would come out of the kiln with cracks. Some unscrupulous potters would coat their pots with wax, filling in the cracks, then paint the exterior so you could not see the defects. Then some unsuspecting customer would purchase the pot. But when they “popped it in the microwave” to heat some food, the wax would melt and the cracks would become obvious.
Certain Roman potters, however, became quite skilled at their craft, making pots free of cracks. So they would post a sign in the marketplace that said, “For Sale – Sine Cere Pots,” pots without wax. So the word sincerity became associated with a mark of quality.
In the same way, if there are defects in our character, they tend to manifest themselves when we are under pressure. A sincere person has a transparency of motives. There is no hidden agenda. In the words of Flip Wilson, “What you see is what you get!” That’s the essence of sincerity.
So, the next time you sign a letter or email with the word “Sincerely,” pause to reflect on what it means.
Sheriff Ray Nash
Police Dynamics Institute