David Brooks, The Road to Character, in my view, ranks four stars but more important than my ranking, Brooks book profoundly influenced my thinking of my past and present life. First let me explain the ranking then how the book impacted my thinking.
His book takes on not only an important discussion of character but also the challenging topic of sin, redemption and the inner life. It is well crafted, beginning with the distinction between resume virtues (Adam I) and eulogy virtues (Adam II) and concludes with an excellent summation of the “humility code.”
At the outset and throughout this well written book, Brooks explains a vocation is not a career but a calling. Like Plutarch and other moralists, Brooks describes the lives… Continue reading
In our study of American Heroes, the moral interest of their stories must be centered in the character of the deed involved. Heroes’ deeds proceed from choice rather than obligation. The spirit of virtue hovers over their deeds and motives.
Their accomplishments must be worthy of our admiration while their heroism comes from both the magnitude of the achievement and from their humility. There is no conflict between the Christian values of humility and heroism because heroes do not seek acclaim.
The qualities, which, in my view, may be seen as heroic, are: grit, wisdom, selflessness, commitment, willingness to take on a monumental task, purity of intention and singleness of purpose.
We are seeking to identify Americans who have lived out their convictions. Some may have done so in the public eye because of the visibility afforded them by their careers. Others may simply have lived lives of quiet heroism.… Continue reading
Lessons of Hope is likely to be read by most educators, but it should also be read by all reformers of the status quo. I say that because this is a story of one man leading the charge for change against a bevy of ardent status quo defenders.
Imagine the courage it took to take over the nation’s largest school district–one that was already suffering from low graduation rates, gang violence bleeding into the classrooms, and faculty close to their breaking point. Joel Klein accepted that challenge from Mayor Bloomberg, and took on the education of over one million kids. He was charged by the Mayor to reform NYC schools and transform the dysfunctional ones in high poverty areas into a nationwide model for improved public education.
In his eight years as Chancellor of NYC schools, Joel Klein not only demonstrated perseverance, but proved radical reform could succeed amidst formidable… Continue reading
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… Continue reading
Robert A. Hall is a good friend of The Character Building Project. The former Massachusetts legislator, blogger (www.tartanmarine.blogspot.com) and fellow author brought to my attention and now yours, an excellent article from the Jewish World review. For your information, royalties from Bob’s recent book
(The Coming Collapse of the American Republic: And what you can do to prevent it) http://www.amazon.com/Coming-Collapse-American-Republic-prevent/dp/1461122538/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1304815980&sr=1-
go to charities to help wounded vets. Continue reading
Most all the characters in Politics with Principle benefited from valued mentors in the course of their careers. I have had, and continue to share the good fortune of the counsel of mentors. Perhaps an earlier post about living life well prompted my friend and mentor, Paul Stoltz, to suggest reading Martin Seligman’s latest book: Flourish…A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being. Continue reading
One’s political career need not be modeled after great politicians, even though it is wise to study those of exemplary character. Politics is about principles, not rules. A rule says around here we do it this way. A principle says this approach is mandatory and fundamental to humanity working at its finest. Principles practiced in ancient Greeks will apply today and for many generations after today. Your own campaign, to be successful, must stem from within you, from the principles that have shaped your life. It must be authentic and genuinely you. Continue reading
The next member of the “character community” to be profiled is Alexandre Havard. Alexandre is a graduate of one of France’s leading law schools. He has worked as an attorney-at-law in several European countries. He is an alumnus of IESE Business School. Alexandre has lectured throughout the United States, at the Moscow MGIMO, the Plekhanov Russian Academy of Economics and the Russian Academy of National Economy. Havard is the author of the book “Virtuous Leadership” published in New York in 2007 and translated into 13 languages. Continue reading
Recently, I was on a plane, as I often am, and a woman sat down beside me who was crying. I wondered to myself what her story might be – what was she leaving or going too that was causing distress. We all have a “story.” Experiences in our life that shape who we are and define the “principles” that guide us. This “story” makes us passionate and motivated – sometimes stubborn and defensive. Luckily, we each have the power to determine what our story will be—by being wise about those things that are within our control and by how we respond to things we don’t control. Continue reading
The 112th Congress begins not necessarily from a clean slate and a pure heart, but from the actions of our elected officials as we find them… a mix of independents, conservatives, liberals and one or two socialists. Some will be virtuous and half virtuous; some will be smart and others foolish. When they arrive in January we will see how the men and women at the helm as well as the rank and file display courage when their character is tested. We will see how they use political power, for better or worse in accordance with their character. As keen observers know, political power magnifies a legislator’s character. For most, it amplifies their flaws, petty vices and vindictiveness. For some it magnifies their strengths, virtues and magnanimity. Continue reading
It is rare to find the level of humility one discovers in Charlie, particularly among his peers. Charlie exemplifies Ronald Reagan’s belief that much can be accomplished in politics when people stop worrying about who gets the credit.
The ability to work with the other side of the aisle has been part of Charlie’s success. “To be effective, to implement conservative political philosophy, you’ve got to work through the two-party system. If you’re going to be a leader in the Republican Party, you’re going to have to support non-conservative people and occasionally you’re going to have to compromise on an issue.” Continue reading