It has been some time since I have posted on the Character Building Project site. In addition, I have suspended all activity supporting my last book Restoring Character in America. Accordingly, I believe I owe my readers an explanation.
Since publishing my first book, Politics with Principle in 2010, my mission has not changed**. I began profiling ten ethical leaders with whom I had known during my 30 plus years as a Washington Lobbyists. This book met with considerable success within the Washington Beltway. However, not so outside the beltway. In fact, the typical reaction was how did you ever find ten honest politicians?
My next book Courage in America, published in 2013, profiled seven wounded warriors. By selecting wounded warriors who already have, or are in the process of successfully overcoming traumatic injuries, I tried to understand the virtues that enable some of them to turn their adversities… Continue reading
I could not think of a more uplifting message to share with the readers of the Character Building Project during the Christmas season than the following address of my friend and neighbor, David Rathburn, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Grove City College. While currently undergoing the traumatic challenges of stage three cancer, David has kept the faith that he learned many years ago from his parents and his college community.
When I was a student here I didn’t have very much money, so I found numerous jobs to allow me to buy gas and late night food at Pizza Villa – a place long since closed that few around here probably remember it right by the Guthrie Theater.
I shoveled snow (and we had a lot of it in the late 70’s), I wrote sports stories about Grove City athletics for the Butler Eagle and Sharon Herald,… Continue reading
Recently, I viewed a movie that has me thinking about the current state of ethics and leadership training.
Waffle Street, from James Adams’ 2010 memoir of the same title, tells the true story of a bright young MBA who participated in some of Wall Street’s unsavory practices, took the fall for his company’s wrongdoing, and found redemption as a server at a waffle restaurant. A line taken from the movie has me wondering…
What we do is legal, therefore it is not unethical; if it were unethical, it would be illegal.
Here is the story… Although he was basically a good guy, Jim Adams nevertheless succumbed to pressures and engaged in unethical practices common in the financial world of the 2000s, spending six years “talking people out of their money.” When the iffy nature of the $200 million investment he put together became public, his company threw him under… Continue reading
Looking back over my thirty plus years as a Washington Lobbyists rarely have I witnessed the decline and dysfunction of the Congress, as maybe the case today? No doubt this decline is associated with the lack of approval and trust in Members of Congress.
However, several factors in addition to the decline in leadership, have also contributed to the ineffectiveness of our political leaders, namely:
The coarsening of our public discourse
The degree to which ideological purity intrudes on political pragmatism
The growing importance of money in politics
The refusal of individuals to collaborate for the common good
Voltaire’s aphorism, “the perfect is the enemy of the good,” was once a sentiment in the Congress that encouraged going along with imperfect legislation in order to accomplish the public interest. Today the center cannot hold and that sentiment has given… Continue reading
In view of the above title, perhaps we should be assessing what schools of leadership at colleges and universities are teaching. I offer the following assessment based upon the ideal definition of leaders… those who are both ethical and effective. This character definition of leadership excludes the greater number of our countries leaders, those that maybe effective, but as Dr. Lerner of Tufts University states… “Leaders who show little evidence of possessing admirable attributes of character.”
Rich Lerner also notes that one of the key components is providing opportunities for students to get involved in leadership are through the moral action of character experiences. After hundreds of peer reviewed character publications, Rich believes character develops through mutually influential relations between an individual and multiple and interrelated settings of his or her life. *
My own assessment is that leadership scholars have not sufficiently incorporated the study of character development… Continue reading