It is interesting to note that on a typical construction site, cement crews often do their work very early in the morning, before the other workers arrive. They follow a plan, calculate what is needed, and begin to pour the material that will stabilize the entire effort. However, the final determination of the cement crew’s efforts will not be seen right away, but when the building settles. Only when the full weight of the structure is placed on the foundation will the true integrity of what they’ve built be tested.… Read the rest
“The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity.
Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Of the many timeless accomplishments of the ancient Greeks, perhaps none is as important as their documenting the significance of virtues: a basic moral guide to good living.
Virtues serve as the cornerstone of our ability to consistently bring out the best in ourselves as well as those around us. In fact, the great philosopher Aristotle’s first rule for being good is that there are no rules.… Read the rest
In 1989, an earthquake in Armenia flattened the entire nation and killed over thirty thousand people in under four minutes. Moments after the ground quit shaking, a father raced to an elementary school to save his son. When he arrived, he saw that the school was gone. It had been reduced to a pile of rubble. Then he remembered a promise he had made to his child, “No matter what happens, you can count on me to be there for you.”
Driven by his promise, the father located the approximate area where his son’s classroom had once been and started sorting through the debris.… Read the rest
Neuroscientists studying the human brain confirm that behind everything we do is a thought. Every action is motivated by a belief, and every behavior prompted by our attitude. This straightforward understanding of how we choose to lead our lives is not new. In fact, long before psychologists, sociologists, and scientists understood this to be scientifically validated truth, it appeared in the Book of Proverbs. Over three thousand five hundred years ago we were told that people should “be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.”
It was wise leadership advice then and remains wise advice today.… Read the rest
One day, a farmer who loved nature was walking in the woods near his farm and came across an injured baby eagle that had fallen far from her nest. Knowing it would very likely die unless something was done to help her, he gathered her carefully in his hands and took her home.
The farmer’s attentive nurturing and care quickly restored the baby eagle to health. Soon it began spending time in the barnyard with some of the farmer’s other animals, particularly the chickens and turkeys. These feathered friends ate together every day, and the eagle quickly grew to full size—complete with a fifteen-foot wingspan.… Read the rest
Several years ago the U.S. Army unveiled its newest advertising campaign. You may remember it. The TV commercial showed a soldier running alone across the desert, carrying a backpack but no rifle. Helicopters swoop overhead. A squad of soldiers runs past, moving in the direction opposite of the lone runner. Voiceover: “Even though there are 1,045,690 soldiers like me, I am my own force. . . . The might of the U.S. Army doesn’t lie in numbers. It lies in me.… Read the rest
Thomas Merton, in his book, The Wisdom of the Desert, recounts a story of the early desert fathers. These were men who gave up everything to live a very simple monastic lifestyle focused on setting aside all elements of self in order to focus on building relationships of service toward others. However, even these pious, selfless men struggled with the battle between pride and humility.
Merton shares an example in which a certain brother was consistently praised by his contemporaries in the presence of Abbot Anthony, the leader of the community.… Read the rest
General John Handy, a 37-year Air Force veteran, shared the following story at a graduation of the Air Command and Staff College (an Air Force graduate school program) several years ago.
It was Friday afternoon and two college students from the University of Alabama were coming close to finishing finals week. Being good students who had already prepared for their final chemistry examination on Monday, they decided they wanted to celebrate a little early. So, they packed the car and headed north to the University of Tennessee for some good ole fashioned fun.… Read the rest
On January 3, 1864, the Grafton, an English schooner piloted by Captain Thomas Musgrave, was destroyed by a hurricane that broke its anchor chains and sunk it on the rocky beach on the southern end of Auckland Island. The captain and his crew of four men made it to shore but not to safety. Auckland Island, after all, is one of the most inhospitable places on earth, with freezing rain, howling winds, and little to eat year round. On May 10th of the same year, the Invercauld, an Aberdeen clipper piloted by Captain George Dalgarno, was struck by a heavy gale and driven between two steep cliffs on the northern side of Auckland Island and sunk.… Read the rest
Deep down in the hearts of those who call themselves “American” exists a shared ideal that we commonly refer to as “the American Dream.” It is a dream that has shone brighly at times and has faded in others. It is a dream that reflects how things could be different if we choose to operate at our individual and collective best.
Have you ever stopped to define this dream for yourself?… Read the rest
Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence!
A famous 50-year-long study of nuns produced a remarkable finding. Namely, the nuns who possessed a more hopeful, optimistic outlook on life lived on average, 10 years longer than those who had more pessimistic or negative outlook.
Several years later, Dr. Charles R. Snyder of the University of Kansas sought to examine the significance of hope in young people. Assessing 3,920 college students, he found that a freshman’s level of hope was a more accurate predictor of their college grades than either their SAT scores or their high school grade-point average.… Read the rest
I love the story of the young man with the bandaged hand who approached the clerk at the post office. “Sir, could you please address this post card for me?” The clerk, happy to help, agreed to write the message on the card.
Once complete, the postal clerk asked the young man if there was anything else he could do for him. The young man looked at the card and then said, “Yes. Would you please add a P.S., Please excuse the handwriting.”
As this tongue-in-cheek tale illuminates, gratitude is rarely our first response. For all the benefits of gratefulness, it’s just not a virtue we naturally put into practice.… Read the rest
Many of you may remember seeing the following TV commercial several years ago: A soldier is running alone across the desert, carrying a backpack but no rifle. Helicopters swoop overhead. A squad of soldiers runs past, moving in the direction opposite of the lone runner. Voiceover: “Even though there are 1,045,690 soldiers like me, I am my own force. . . . The might of the U.S. Army doesn’t lie in numbers. It lies in me. I am an Army of One.”
For those of us serving in the military, this seemed a particularly odd recruiting slogan. With very few exceptions, the image of a warrior acting alone is far from the reality we either espouse or embrace.… Read the rest
The recent political wrangling’s over our countries numerous fiscal challenges certainly seems to bear this out. Instead of rolling up their sleeves to fight the right fight, it seems scores of those we elect to represent our best interests prefer to protect their own ideologies or promote their own agendas. Perhaps this sad truth is why so many of us find ourselves hungry for a different kind of leadership. Specifically, leadership willing to risk doing the right thing, no matter the potential cost to self, in order to promote positive change in their surroundings.… Read the rest
Not long ago I had the opportunity to don a penguin costume and jump into a pool of icy-cold water, all in the name of supporting a good cause. I, and about three dozen others, braved near-zero temperatures to take turns diving into a frosty pool (really an extra-large refuse dumpster) to help raise money for the Special Olympics.
Although it seemed like a fun idea when I first volunteered, I have to admit I was a little fearful the actual day of the event. Now don’t get me wrong.… Read the rest