The Character Building Project

Michael J. Kerrigan

Two pals of mine, Frank Ochberg and Greg Saathoff are psychiatrist. In addition to their demanding practice, both have created organizations that do well for our fellow citizens. Doctor Ochberg is the founder of the Trust for Traumatic Journalism, whose mission is to assist journalist who cover traumatic events; while Doctor Saathoff founded and leads Parade Rest, whose purpose it to support our veterans and their families. Although I have never asked them to define Freud’s notion of determinism, by witnessing their actions, both seem to me to come down on the belief that man is ultimately self-determining.

Freud planted the seed of determinism, which in my opinion, has given our culture every excuse for poor behavior, allowing us to avoid assuming appropriate responsibility for our actions. Strict determinism says if we know the causes, we can predict the effect. Freud believed that unconscious forces of which… Continue reading


Why raise a moral saying of Publius Syrus,* a Roman slave?

As visitors to the character building project site will note, I record maxims and mottoes as they interest me. Secondly, when I came across the idea of learning well but neglecting to do well, I was reminded of the four exemplars that provided the intellectual foundation for my new book, Restoring Character in America.

The essays of the four character experts demonstrate they are not only learned but also that, through their work on character, they have done well. Few men like Rich Lerner, Mike Matthews, Paul Stoltz and Greg Mooney have their proven intellectual firepower but who have also used it for the good of their fellow citizens.

*Publius Syrus (fl. 85–43 BC[1]), was a Latin writer, best known for his sententiae. He was a Syrian… Continue reading



Recently, I came cross a survey done on one hundred people over the age of 90. These very senior citizens were asked one simple question. “If you were to live your life over again, what would you do differently?”

The three top answers were…

They would risk more.

They would reflect more.

They would do more that would live on after them.

Making a significant difference in the lives of others would be my answer..


In an earlier post I noted the truly great lobbyist and perhaps great leaders are skilled at building healthy relationships. The qualities of character that enable great lobbyist and leaders to build influential relationships are building blocks or habits that they have developed and nurtured over time.

Aristotle would agree as he is credited with the following quote, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.“ Positive psychologists like Mike Matthews, Rich Lerner and Paul Stoltz would also agree with the classic model of individual learning, that is, before we acquire any skill there are stages of learning, or competence, that we go through.

It is probably no surprise to anyone that character development entails becoming skilled at various positive habits like accountability, discipline, commitment and honesty. Everything we do requires awareness first, then learning and application, and then… Continue reading


Yesterday I stated I would address how character traits of ethical lobbyists e.g. trustworthiness, skill, personal influence, relationships, being genuinely committed, being accountable, being inspirational, treating people with respect, and having a positive attitude apply to spreading the message of Restoring Character in America?

Thousands of authors publishing tens of thousands of books each month are not in a position to force readers to buy their books. However, the best of writers who have gained a large readership of their published works have demonstrated the skill of getting readers to willingly to buy their books due to the personal influence and relationship they have built with their loyal readers. So what makes this author of two not so well known previously published books think his third attempt to improve character in America will be successful?

Most writers write the book they want to write. It is much wiser… Continue reading

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Just Released!

Restoring Character in AmericaRestoring Character in America identifies the decline in character in our country, but then gives the reader hope for the future by showcasing leaders whose careers are successfully turning around this trend in our schools, communities, businesses, and the military.

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Mottoes & Quotes

Being in power is like being a lady.If you have to remind people you are, you aren’t.

— Margaret Thatcher

For the Visually Impaired

Courage in America has been aurally transcribed for the visually impaired, thanks to Volunteers of Vacaville, California. Tel: 704.448.6841 ext 2044.