Michael J. Kerrigan

restoring character in America

As many of you know, I have been working on the Character Building Project for a longtime. It is a rewarding mission but now I could really use your help in getting the word out about my just published third book, Restoring Character in America (RCIA.

The book’s message is simply that sound moral and intellectual virtues lay a foundation with other good habits that lead to building good character. My call to action is to mobilize individual citizens to help restore character in America.

Several sponsors have committed to help us get the message out by distributing books for free to teachers, parents and coaches. In order to for larger numbers of books to be freely distributed, thirty more Amazon reviews must be posted this quarter. For those not familiar with the process of posting reviews on Amazon, just tell me how I might be in touch with you.… Continue reading


In the last several posts, I have assessed the progress of the Character Building Project site and shared lessons learned in publishing three books on character. In my last book, Restoring Character in America (RCIA) I gained a deeper understanding of character as a result of working with scholars, community and corporate leaders. Also I greatly benefited by exchanges about the state of character in our culture with the readers of my site and notes from my friends on Facebook.

In making this assessment, the question arises if readers appreciate the decline of character in our culture, does the site and the book serve the purpose of doing something about that decline? Most readers would agree, the essays of the four character exemplars in RCIA, clearly explain how character is being restored from an educational, military, corporate and community perspectives. In addition, information about combating the decline has been… Continue reading

For many years I have studied the Pareto Principle**, the commonly quoted management rule, which states that 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people. The hypothesis is that 80 per cent of results flow from 20 per cent of causes, and sometimes from a much smaller proportion of powerful forces.

The 80/20 Principle asserts that a minority of causes, inputs or effort usually led to a majority of the results, outputs or rewards. Taken literally, this means that, for example, 80 per cent of what you achieve comes from 20 per cent of the time spent. Thus for all practical purposes, four- fifths of the effort—a dominant part of it—is largely irrelevant.

The reason that the 80/20 Principle is so valuable is that it is counterintuitive. We tend to expect that all causes will have roughly the same significance and that all customers are equally valuable.… Continue reading

Among the lessons I tried to learn in publishing three books on character is the importance of the book’s cover. Research supports the adage that, “You Can Tell a Book By Its Cover.” In the first two books, I followed the advice of my publisher who offered five suggestions:

Placing the photos of those profiled in each book.

Making sure a large number was also on the cover. For example, 10 Characters with Character and 7 Warriors with Character.

Including the word “Character” in each title.

Carrying on the red, white and blue patriotic color scheme.

Including one of the better testimonials on the book’s cover.

After reading a 2008 article in Psychology Today… “Why You Really Can Judge a Book by Its Cover,” I felt prompted to go beyond psychology research in order to consult with other authors. Their common reaction was…”Of course you can judge a book by… Continue reading

Restoring Character in America was the hardest of my books to publish. The first book, Politics with Principle was written from my 30 plus years of experience as a Washington Lobbyists. The second, Courage in America was a natural outcome of gaining the trust of the wounded warriors and just guiding them on their story of successful rehabilitation.

The idea of Restoring Character in America did not come easily to me. I read endless books, articles, and visited numerous web sites on several character related topics. Initially my plan was to write a book about our law enforcement heroes. I thought this would be a logical extension of the heroic qualities of the wounded warriors I knew. I had already reported on the wounded warriors traumatic loss, their vulnerability in rehabilitation, then their comeback, the final triumph of successful rehabilitation and transition to civilian life.

In my opinion, our country… Continue reading

Adam on the Road to Recovery

Recently, I have been absent (with leave) from posting articles on this site because my neighbors and I hosted an event to support the recovery and rehabilitation of Adam Williams’s traumatic injuries. The good news is that Adam is making a miraculous recovery and the reception raised over $30,000 to help Adam and his family defers huge medical expenses.

As many of you may know, I have been working on character building for over ten years and have just launched my third character book, Restoring Character in America (RCIA.) At this stage of the project, having dedicated 10,000 hours to studying character education, we are generating growing interest in citizen participation in character building, sold over five thousand copies of my first two published books,…  Politics with Principle: Ten Characters with Character and Courage in America, have almost 700 loyal followers who… Continue reading

My former client and lifetime friend, Larry Peck sparked my interest in the science of talent development. After a successful corporate career, Larry has now set a goal of being a Master shotgun marksman/expert. At the same time, Larry has encouraged my work in character building. Being a very competitive guy, Larry suggested I read The Talent Code. He later sent me The Little Book of Talent and most recently Every Shot Must Have A Purpose.

As a result of Larry’s prompting, my reading has become much more intense having focused on related books like: Deep Work, Will Power and The Power of Habit. Long ago the Jesuits planted in me, Aristotle’s “habit seed” …

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

My recent book, Restoring Character in America was laid on the foundation and life’s work of four… Continue reading

Growing up in the Midwest, I was blessed to have loving parents, old school coaches, caring teachers and orthodox priests, all of whom imparted in me traditional values. As an adult, I have been also blessed by the significant role of mentors in my past and current professional life.

One mentor helped me understand the application in practicing the skills I developed as a lobbyist to my work on the goals of the Character Building Project. For example, billing out time to different clients while advocating their cause on the Hill taught me the importance of being “thoughtful about my work habits.” Now that my career has become a “calling,” similar skills are needed to measure my productivity.

Another mentor taught me that while my professional goals in the past were often measured by the income I generated, now my goals are no longer measured in monetary terms or career… Continue reading

Achieving progress on my mission* of helping to restore character in America is discouraging at times. However, belief in such progress commands trust. Persevering on my mission forbids cynicism and walking away from fostering building character strengths and relationships in a rising generation of citizens.

Substantive comments on my blog for example, following my warning to fellow conservatives not to let the alt-right abrogate traditional values; loyal support from Facebook friends but strangers too, as well as reviews on Amazon of my new book: these victory signs are proof that the call to restore character in America goes out and will not come back empty-handed.

Thanks be to all, friends and new friends alike, for your support.

*To generate greater meaning, purpose and engagement in life’s satisfaction by belonging to and serving the character community and the community at large.

**We may be across the aisle politically, but we are… Continue reading

After three books and with over hundreds of articles published in the past ten years, I am ready to share some lessons I have learned in the battle to restore character in our culture.

The first lesson, an excerpt from the movie a Few Good Men, is that the average American, especially today’s millennial’s, cannot handle the truth of what it takes to restore character in our country.

Jessep: You want answers?
Kaffee (Tom Cruise): I think I’m entitled to them.
Jessep: You want answers?
Kaffee: I want the truth!
Jessep: You can’t handle the truth!  Son, we live in a world that has walls. And those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago and you curse the Marines.… Continue reading

Whether the original statement that ““The battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton (which is attributed by oral tradition to the Duke of Wellington) was meant literally or metaphorically makes little difference to me.

This Irish-American must give the Brits their due, as educators at British boarding schools over the last 200 years, took it for granted that they were teaching character as much as they were teaching math or history.

Ever since the McGuffey Reader was set aside in favor of various educational fads, manifestos and trends, (such as the self esteem movement,) the idea that in America, if you worked hard, and you showed real grit you could be successful, was also set aside.

However, in the last 40 years the question for educators was not whether but how schools should impart good character. In the 1980’s William Bennett made the traditional case… 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.