I have had a blessed life. I am the beneficiary of my loving wife of 45 years. We now transition to our “next chapter” by having the gratification of watching our three children carefully, raise their families in the faith of our fathers. Not having spoiled our three, we can have the joy of spoiling our twelve grandchildren.
While I am well aware of these blessings, reading Sirach reminds me not to take so many friends for granted. Many of my friends have demonstrated the excellence of their moral character by contributing not only to our country but also by finding the time to support The Character Building Project.
Several of the “characters with character” profiled on Politics with Principle, have actively supported our mission to improve character in our country. Charlie Black when accepting a ”Lobbyists of the Year” award speaks of the virtue of humility. Bill Bulger counsels me what Dr. Johnson (“example is always more efficacious than precept”) might do and think. Paul Eckstein guides my reading lists while he shares with me the curriculum of the character course he teaches at ASU law School. Admiral Lynch is just as patriotic today as he was as the Superintendent of the Naval Academy. Tom is constantly mentoring our wounded warriors by guiding their transition to the civilian work force.
So many others have contributed to the growth of The Character Building Project; I cannot name them all in this post. However, I must acknowledge the good acts of my intellectual mentor, Dr. Paul Stoltz, the father of the Adversity Quotient. Paul prods me to “keep climbing” to better understand various forms of resilience which can occur in wounded warriors after surviving traumatic injuries. Former Member of Congress, Frank Riggs, who voluntarily followed his term limit pledge, has encouraged me to support character education in our charter schools.
Numerous new friends have appeared on my Facebook page and have otherwise expanded the reach of The Character Building Project. Thirty-eight have already written favorable reviews of Courage in America on Amazon.
I have a sense of wonder, thankfulness and appreciation in finding a treasure in so many good pals. I am grateful having been touched by them so that we all can together follow the better angels of our nature.
Charlie Black is a good friend of The Character Building Project and one of the ten characters with character featured in Politics with Principle http://thecharacterbuildingproject.com/politics-with-principle/ten-interesting-characters/
This past week on the occasion of receiving the 2013 lobbyists of the year award from the Bryce Harlow Foundation, Charlie Black offered the following remarks…
Bryce Harlow said, “A Washington representative needs to recognize and accept the fact that whatever it is that he represents is much more important to the political animals in town than his own personality and atmospherics. A good politician looks right behind the beseecher. He wants to know, and is busy calculating as the representative makes his pitch, how the representatives company and its employees might help or hurt him in his never-ending fight for political survival.”
In other words, it’s not about you. It’s about your company, your industry, your client, the thousands of employees, potential employees and consumers you represent. Understate your role and lift up your client.
But, humility in all your professional dealings is more. It is treating everyone—Members, staff, and colleagues—with respect and kindness and listening with an open mind.
As good a trait as humility is, its opposite trait can ruin you. C.S. Lewis said, “There is one vice of which no one in the world is free; which everyone in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people ever imagine that they are guilty themselves. There is no fault, which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault, which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others. The vice I am taking about is Pride, or Self Conceit: and the virtue opposite to it is called humility.”
At the outset of writing Courage in America, I wish to credit the ten wounded warriors who shared with me their arduous journeys from their traumatic injuries to individual greatness. I also wish to acknowledge Dr. Paul Stoltz and Erik Weihenmayer, not only for having greatly influenced my thinking by there book, The Adversity Advantage but also for their ongoing support to the Character Building Project.
Last Thursday before addressing the students of Belmont Abbey College, I was graciously hosted to dinner by three professors from the political science department. During our dinner conversation the question arose as to whether or not most college-aged students in the United States display a psychological perspective that is essentially self-absorbed—one emphasizing personal gain, with a limited ability to subordinate one’s self-interest for the good of others, or for shared values? Continue reading
Over the last five years, I have dedicated myself to studying the formation of character in our culture. Politics with Principle, for example, analyzed the character development of ten characters with character. One of those characters, Admiral Tom Lynch, the former Superintendent of the Naval Academy, encouraged me to look closely at the formation of character at the Naval Academy as well as at other of our nation’s military academies. As a result of that effort, I have discovered the fact that the Coast Guard, Air Force, Naval, and Army academies are institutions offering world-class leader-development. They have been, and continue to be, breeding grounds for future leaders with good character. Continue reading
This summer Robin Roberts, the well regarded Washington politico and founder of the Washington Media Scholars Media Foundation http://mediascholars.org/ invited me to speak to the 2011 Scholars about good character in politics. These Scholars came from several excellent colleges and universities after having won media scholarships that included an all-expenses-paid week in Washington D.C. Continue reading
Progeny from the country’s upper class professional families seem to be attending law, business, and medical schools to become lawyers, corporate executives and doctors at about the same rate as previous generations with one difference. In the past, those of privilege pursued these professions, but they also enlisted for careers in the military. If fewer college-bound youth today are joining the military, will they develop the same physical and moral courage that marks many non-college-bound enlistees to military service such as Corporal Todd Nicely? Continue reading
My friend, noted author, speaker, and management consultant, Robert Porter Lynch took time away from his many projects to offer another view on courage. Robert’s thoughtful analysis (see below) has caused me to mediate much deeper on the virtue of courage. Having studied the character of ten exemplary characters in Politics with Principle and listened to several mentors, especially, Robert on “trust” and Paul Stoltz on “adversity,” I am now ready to offer my own analysis of courage, the first among the cardinal virtues. Continue reading
Earlier in the month I asked in this space whether interviewing today’s young military heroes would enrich our study of character and might this project contribute to a better understanding of character? The Character Building Project readers readily responded and influenced my thinking on how to proceed. Although all respondents encouraged me to pursue the project, several suggested the interviews should not be only of wounded warriors. Further I was cautioned a singular focus on the wounded warriors might have the unintended effect of dramatizing their extraordinary sacrifices and not including the sacrifices of other warriors in combat.
This is to invite our readers’ input as to whether or not the study of character would be enriched by interviewing today’s military heroes. Just as Politics with Principle successfully analyzed good character in ten virtuous politicians, a study of ten virtuous military warriors, men and women who have defended our nation since September 11, 2001 might also contribute to a better understanding of character.