Michael J. Kerrigan

Adversity

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Last week I was privileged to address the Albemarle Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution on the “The Character and Heroism of our Wounded Warriors and their Families.” The chapter of about seventy “Daughters” has raised, over the past 24 months, $150,000 to pay for three “track chairs” which they intend to award to three deserving wounded warriors.

Equally impressive was their sincere interest in our Veterans welfare as well as by the thoughtful questions raised after my brief talk. Two themes emerged during the Q&A, namely: what can be done to radically reform the Veterans Administration? The other was how do our wounded warriors develop their extraordinary character to persevere and prosper after traumatic injuries?

I will answer the VA question in another post but explained where the wounded warriors received their character education. It certainly was not in a high school… Continue reading

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Many believe the topic of heroism is critically important to our politics, culture and needs to be properly taught in our educational system. That is why I am studying the path of ordinary Americans, heroically overcoming adversity.

Some time ago I reacted to the growth of “extreme egalitarianism” and the “self-esteem” movement, then and now, infiltrating our educational system. As a reaction, I was motivated to launch The Character Building project site. Our mission is to foster character building strengths in a rising generation of citizens by sharing the stories of ethical leaders who presently serve or have served others.

My vision to enhance character development is by writing, researching, teaching, speaking about leadership that illustrates the relationship between character development and the individual’s reasoning skills, moral will and self-discipline.

The reaction to my first book, Politics with Principle was positive inside the beltway but outside the beltway not so… Continue reading

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Hopefully, all the readers of The Character Building Project will have time to read, The Meaning of Their Service in today’s WSJ. For those who cannot make time, I offer a few excerpts from the article by General Mattis, a retired four-star (U.S. Marine Corps) and former commander of U.S. Central Command, and a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution.

General Mattis call to revive the American spirit is reminiscent of scene from Shakespeare, Henry V (“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers…”) a speech to rally the warriors in the English camp.

Here follow a few excerpts from, The Meaning of Their Service, General Mattis explanation of how veterans can help revive American optimism.

So long as you maintain that same commitment to others and that same enthusiasm for life’s challenges that you felt in yourself, your shipmates, your comrades and buddies, you will never… Continue reading

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Another great article from CLAIRE DOROTIK-NANA, LMFT

It’s a coveted trait. It’s what coaching gurus promise, athletes embody, and secretly we all want. It’s what separates though who can take a hit and those who will quit. It’s often what divides those who will fight until success is theirs and those who will only hope for it.

It’s mental toughness. And here are five things that grow it.

Adversity. If physical stress builds physical strength, it’s adversity – which is a form of emotional stress – that builds mental toughness. And if we define mental toughness as the ability to take life’s setbacks and turn them into springboards, then setbacks are the fuel that mental toughness feeds on. For evidence, we can look to the research of Tedeschi and Calhoun, the foremost researchers of post-traumatic growth, who studied groups of trauma survivors, to determine that undergoing trauma ignited a growth… Continue reading

Although several thousand copies of my first book, Politics with Principle: 10 Character with Character were purchased, there were scores of readers who quipped, how in your 34-year career as a lobbyist did you find ten politicians with character? The character market seemed not receptive to stories of politicians with character.

Because perseverance is among the virtues needed not only for authors but those faced with adversity, I authored my second book and was pleasantly surprised with the reaction to, Courage in America: 7 Warriors with Character. Not only were more copies sold than the first book but also interest in the stories of courage of our servicemen and women has not faded but remains strong.

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I remain dedicated to my mission, that is, to foster character building strengths, relationships and meaning in a rising generation of citizens by sharing the stories of successful and ethical leaders who presently… Continue reading

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As a young student, I felt conflicted trying to understand why good men suffer. My father, James Kerrigan was a humble, good and God fearing man yet suffered with tuberculosis, seven years in the sanitarium and 13 major operations, dying at age 62! On the other hand, my father was also a dedicated and happy husband, a most cheerful family man, and an extraordinary athlete, notwithstanding his many years of disabilities. Justice should have delivered prosperity to my Dad yet his life was full of adversity.

My father’s most repeated advice to me was that “Michael, it is not what happens but how you handle what happens that counts.” In addition to bestowing the moniker of “Golden Boy” on me, my Dad shared many books with me as he made the best of his years in the sanitarium by being a voracious reader. However, the two books he cherished… Continue reading

The Huffington Post

By Alena Hall

Posted: 07/08/2014 7:39 am EDT  |  Updated: 07/08/2014 7:59 am EDT

Humans have a remarkable capacity for resilience. Over and over, we hear stories of people who, after trauma and adversity, pick themselves up, put the pieces back together, and go on with their lives.

But for many, there’s a place beyond recovery. For this group, life’s most difficult experiences prompt them not only to bounce back, but to bounce forward. These are the people who David B. Feldman and Lee Daniel Kravetz spotlight in their new book, Supersurvivors: The Surprising Link Between Suffering and Success. They define a supersurvivor as “a person who has dramatically transformed his or her life after surviving a trauma, accomplishing amazing things or transforming the world for the better.”

By telling the stories of those who created better lives for themselves following a… Continue reading

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Maj. Thomas A. Jarrett | U.S. Army Public Health Command excellent article which follows, nicely connects to many in the PTG movement, not the least of whom are my friends: Alvin Townley, (author of Defiant), Taylor Baldwin, Peter Fretwell (co-authors of Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton) and the guy who coined the term PTG… Rich Tedeschi.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — How often do we hear that yet another soldier, colleague or family has been traumatized by an event? Learning that someone survived a crisis may cause us to look at him or her differently, imagining that they might now be damaged permanently by such events.

We see little if any benefit to loss, struggle or suffering, and quickly label those who suffer “victims.” Why do so many hold this viewpoint?

Professionals have become very skilled in diagnosing, treating, and sometimes even preventing mental disorders; however, focus on disease and… Continue reading

The following script is from “The Virtuoso” which aired on March 30, 2014 on 60 MINUTES

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-virtuoso-marcus-roberts/

Who’s the greatest American musician most people have never heard of? To me, it’s Marcus Roberts. I’m biased because Marcus worked in my band when he was just starting out. But anybody who’s heard him at the piano usually agrees: he’s a fearsome and fearless player, and a homegrown example of overcoming adversity with excellence.

 

From time to time I receive comments on The Character Building Project regarding the mottos and quotes posted on the site. Given these comments, I thought a good way to begin the New Year is by listing these general truths, which in my opinion, make a wise comment about human behavior in general and are consistent with how I see character.

 

Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Rome

Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Rome

The happiness in your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.

Marcus Aurelius

 

Look at a man in the mist of doubt and danger, and you will learn in his hour of adversity what he really is

Lucretius

 

A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one, finds a treasure.

Sirach 6:14

 

Human nature is the one constant through human history. It is always there.

Thucydides

 

Luxury destroys more efficiently than war.

Juvenal

 

Yield… Continue reading

Suffering well means doing so in a way that elevates yourself and those around you. It is the one opportunity for everyday greatness we are all granted.

It means paying a price others maybe unwilling to pay to achieve a goal others may be unable to reach. It means facing up to hardships inherent in anything significant, and taking on the task together, not with the hollow words “Good luck team,” but rather with the meatier blessing, “Suffer Well!” Live these words and greatness will emerge.

Suffering well means taking in the rich nutrients of life’s bitter defeats, emerging more powerful, formidable, and focused as a result. To suffer well is to use the hardships to transcend ego, so that you get out of your own way in doing what needs to be done with your life.

It is to distill and ultimately share the meaning you derive from each… Continue reading

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