The Ethical Edge: Inspiring Leaders of Integrity
IT’S THE JOURNEY
By LARRY SHOAF, Senior Vice-President
AON RISK SERVICES
Earlier this year Paula, my wife, was visiting our daughter and her family in the Seattle area and I was home alone feeling lonely and missing her. So, out of the blue, I decided to write a poem just for her and email it in time for her to read prior to our customary evening telephone chat. I am not a poet and writing poetry is not a part of my gestalt, but something that evening allowed me to put down in writing what was running through my mind as I thought about how much I missed Paula and how much she was a part of my life. Here is the poem I wrote that evening:
It took so long for me to realize,
As we pass from day to day.
It’s not the places that we’re going to
But, the stops along the way.
It’s not the things that we acquire
Or how much we may be praised.
It’s the people we choose to travel with us
And those we choose to turn away.
Those things that seemed so important
Have gradually faded out of sight.
Now it’s the people that are on our journey
And the one we see each night.
As I look back upon my journey
Which I shared with you, my wife.
I’m so thankful we traveled together
And our journey became my life.
Paula liked the poem and it was also a hit with our daughter in Seattle. Paula later framed my email and put it in a place of prominence on her makeup table. That’s where I saw it the other day and after reading it several times, I thought about how much more was embodied in the poem than just my feelings for my wife. Whether a conscious attempt or not, I was also reflecting back on all the people that have been so important to me and have helped to shape my life. Looking back on my journey, I can see how important the people we choose to travel with us are in determining the direction we are headed and the values we will carry with us. Each day we can choose to be with positive caring people, builders, dreamers, givers, doers, people who are happy and people who look beyond their own needs to the needs of others. Equally important are those we choose to turn away. People who will pull us down with their negativity, vendors of hate, small minds who measure their success against the failures of others, people who find the bad in every situation and people who are content to take as much as they can from relations while giving back as little as possible.
As I look back on the people in my life and seek to single out that “one person” that has been my mentor and to whom I owe so much; I realize that there are more people than I can possibly mention. I have traveled with some wonderful and remarkable people during my journey…and I still am.
Larry Shoaf can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ethical Edge: Inspiring Leaders of Integrity
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE AN AMERICAN
By Bart Young, CEO
St. Anthony Park is a wooded green village nestled between the Twin Cities in the northwest corner of St. Paul, Minnesota. A few miles from the University of Minnesota, this township is home to notable scholars and authors such as Nobel Peace Prize-winning scientist Norman Borlaug, Nobel Prize-winning author Saul Bellow and author-humorist Garrison Keillor.
With delightful weather almost 3 months a year, there is no holiday more important here than Independence Day. Every July 4th, the entire town, all 8,674 of them, 90% white, parade in cars, wheel chairs and baby strollers down Como Avenue as they wave and strut to the sound of marching bands and cheering fans.
The parade concludes at Langford Park which fills quickly with families, bikers and old timers alike. It’s especially crowded in front of the gazebo, where the main event takes place: The reading of “What It Means To Be An American” by 6th Graders from St. Anthony’s Elementary School.
Flanked by the Mayor of Saint Paul, school board members, state representatives, senators and chief of police, the three winning students (chosen from over 100 entrants) read their essay into the microphone over a loud speaker system befitting a rock concert. There are always a few dry eyes in the house, but for the most part, the audience is deeply moved, reverent and attentive to the honored students who speak to the ideals which form the foundation of what we call the United States of America.
Prior to the readings, a single man, Robert Hahnen Sr., is honored for initiating the essay contest and his deep resolve to establish it as a vitally important institution that would unify the community, honor the students and celebrate all that they share together. For 20 years, until the age of 93, Bob Hahnen would diligently recruit “luminaries” from the University, Nobel Prize winners and public officials to judge of the essays and in turn provide the Grand Prize for each and every student winner: Public recognition and endorsement of their message to the community. Something that cost nothing and meant everything to those involved.
Uncle Bob paid it forward in the community he loved, for the country he loved with a gift that keeps on giving to the entire community through the voice of its prized students and future leaders.
Bob passed on in 1999, yet the Library Association continues the tradition to this day with his son Richard and grandson Zach both involved. Increasingly, over the years, more students of color are taking the podium which sends its own message of unification and goodwill. Because on St. Anthony Park’s most important day of the year the only colors that matter are red, white and blue.
Bart Young can be contacted at email@example.com
The Ethical Edge: Inspiring Leaders of Integrity
THE STOP IS AS IMPORTANT AS THE GO
JAYSON DUNCAN, Chief Storyteller, Miller Farm Media
We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aid, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn. -Henry David Thoreau
All of the biggest influencers in my life provided guidance without me really knowing that I was being influenced at the time. These people may not have even realized that they were influencing the shape and direction of my life. Often times, I did not realize the lessons learned from them until years later.
In the early 90’s, I was an apprentice to a jewelry maker. He taught me about running my own business, how to be honest, and how to run my business in an ethical way. I still use a lot of those lessons, as it relates to business, today. One of his biggest lessons was the importance of taking one day off a week. This was actually one of the conditions for me to be his apprentice.
As I get older, I see this as an even more important standard and yet, one that is harder to keep. Standing true to it has made me a much better businessman because it has taught me the importance of rest. A farmer rotates his crops every 7 years because the earth needs a rest. In music, the space between the notes is just as important as the notes. The same is true for our bodies and minds. We need a time of rest each week.
I remember a farmer I knew who took Sundays off. When I asked him why, I was told that when he farmed on Sunday he wound up further behind than if he had not worked at all. I find that when I take a day to rest, I am more creative, and in a better mindset to tackle whatever needs to be done. When I keep working, without taking regular times to rest, I start to miss things, sometimes important things. In the bible, even God Himself took the 7th day off.
I have great respect for companies like Hobby Lobby and Chick Fil A that teach by example and give everyone in the organization Sunday off. I would be willing to bet that they see greater productivity throughout the week because of that one day of rest.
It is easy to be busy… but are we brave enough to rest?
Jayson Duncan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ethical Edge: Inspiring Leaders of Integrity
EVERY PERSON HAS UNIQUE GIFTS
Human Resource Specialist & Consultant
“Focus on what is right with people rather than what is wrong.”
- Don Clifton
Early on in my career as a Customer Service Manager I knew I liked working with people. I was fascinated with different personalities and just what motivated each person to do his or her job to the best of their ability. What I noticed is that when I took the time to listen and understand each person’s unique abilities something happened. Each person would strive to do even better and I was able to recognize where they excelled. What I didn’t realize is that by listening and understanding each person’s unique contributions to the team it encouraged them to then listen to and accept their co-workers more, in turn creating a stronger team.
During my tenure as a customer service manager I had the honor and privilege of meeting Dr. Marge Barlow, a psychologist and strengths advocate. Dr. Barlow had come to the mill to conduct a strengths workshop for the management team. Her message that day spoke to the total acceptance of others and how honoring the unique God given strengths of others could unlock hidden potential. She talked about Donald Clifton who was the “Father of Strengths Psychology” as someone who had influenced her. He looked at what was right with people rather than what was wrong! Hearing this message unlocked my passion for the power that exists when we take the time to listen to people and honor their unique strengths.
Dr. Barlow helped me understand my own unique talents and gifts. I realized the power of understanding what I was good at and focusing on it to succeed rather than trying to improve on my weaknesses. So often we spend too much time expecting ourselves and others to be good at everything. No matter where I found myself, whether at work or in my personal life, I was driven to not only live a strengths based life, but to share this message with others.
Can you imagine what the world would be like if we focused on what is right with people rather than what is wrong? It would be a different world where acceptance prevails. Sometimes we are quick to judge and put up barriers without really listening and learning from those we encounter every day, sometimes especially those that we love the most.
Dr. Daniel Kahneman’s research suggests that we have 20,000 moments in a day with significant possibilities to encounter numerous people. You never know whose life you could change by just listening for a moment and taking the time to recognize the unique strengths of that individual. I am mindful of how I spend the 20,000 moments in my day, reminding myself often to focus on the strengths of others rather than their weaknesses.
I challenge you to do the same in your part of the world to see what discoveries may be waiting for you.
The Ethical Edge: Inspiring Leaders of Integrity Series
The Art Of Integrity
WHY NOT MENTOR INTENTIONALLY!
BY MEL TRUDELL
Founder & President, Custom Comfort Mattress
“There are two way of exerting strength:
one is pushing down, the other is pulling up.”
– Booker T. Washington
There are very few people in our lives who we consider to be a Mentor or Coach. I am blessed to say that Mark Wilson became a very positive influence in my life.
Growing up with an army of nine siblings and very little resources, I never learned how to verbally communicate or express myself well. I had a learning disability as a child, so I struggled in school. Therefore, I learned from watching my family and from growing up alongside my best friend, Mark Wilson. Mark was four years older than me. He and his parents were longtime family friends with whom I spent a lot of time. Mark was a friend from childhood to the day he passed away due to an illness about three years ago. Now, more than ever, I realize how much Mark was a mentor to me throughout my life.
Today, I look back on what I learned from Mark as well as his father. They taught me how to listen…how to be open with one another…and how to share our true feelings, expressing what is on our mind. Mark taught me so much about just being there for someone and not standing in judgment of another.
It’s funny how people are put into our lives and how, unconsciously, they teach us the littlest of things. It was not until just recently that I understood how deeply Mark influenced my life. I have been so blessed by having great people around me. Mark shared his wisdom by encouraging me to become t equipped with the gift of how to just sit and listen…without judgment…giving that kind spirit of compassion. Mark taught me how to be emotionally present to others in the moment. As we grew into adulthood and started our own families, Mark displayed a positive influence on my two boys by listening and allowing them to talk through their feelings.
As children we absorb much. As we continue to grow we discover there are mentors who come our way from all walks of life. I can honestly say that Mark Wilson and his dad taught me valuable life lessons by listening, encouraging and the best lesson of all…never judging.
I now understand and believe more clearly, just how important it is for each of us to be a positive influence with the next generation by just lending an ear when needed. If we all could be intentional about mentoring the youth around us, what a better society we could have. I say intentional because we DO influence either intentionally or unintentionally. Why not be intentional about it!
Mel Trudell can be contacted at email@example.com
The Ethical Edge: Inspiring leaders of integrity
PAIN’S THE NAME OF THE GAME
Founder & CEO, Broughton Advisory & Broughton Hotels
During those wet and snowy winter months in rural upstate New York, while most of my classmates were smoking behind the school, trying out for the basketball team, or hanging at the mall, I was running the halls of my high school, wearing a rubberized sweat suit. Trying to motivate and inspire our ragtag wrestling team, Coach “Dutch” Sturdevant barked one-liners like…“pain builds character” and…“short-term pain brings long-term gain!”
Sure, Dutch’s decrees had lots to do with pushing our bodies to the limit, hitting the weight room, and doing wind sprints. But, the subtlety, substance and power of his messages didn’t hit me until reconnecting with Coach during a hometown trip more than thirty years later. I now recognize that Coach Dutch’s pithy proclamations had less to do with sneaking bowls of ice cream before bed, and much more to do with reaching towards our fullest potential, living with authenticity, and embracing integrity…that magic place where our behaviors match our values.
Since authenticity and genuine leadership rarely intersect anymore, it’s often difficult to identify that single role model who excites and inspires us towards greatness. So, left to our own insecurities, we become more concerned about avoiding difficult conversations and painful situations than we are about making the tough decision and doing the right thing. We become weak and morally bankrupt and we rationalize. In an attempt to secure that big contract, gain the promotion, or advance our own agenda, we embellish the facts, shade the truth, and lie. “After all, if others really knew the truth about me, they’d run the other way,” right? Wrong!
The truth is, facts can be finagled, but authenticity can’t be faked. It’s the alignment of head and heart; thinking and saying; feeling and doing that others find most attractive about us. Although it’s usually the most challenging and painful seasons in life that ignite our spark for authenticity and transparency, the journey frequently leads to our most significant season of joy, freedom and connectedness. Authenticity builds trust, and followers love leaders they trust.
If we truly do become the average of the people we hang out with the most, shouldn’t we surround ourselves with people who are willing to choose the hard right over the easy wrong? It’s not too late! I’m convinced now, that growing in the areas of authenticity, transparency and integrity is like exercising any muscle. It may be painful to push the pile of weights the first time in the gym, but with dedication and small incremental improvement, we can, over time, move the stack with less stress and strain.
Thanks for the reminder, Coach, that “pain is weakness leaving our body.”
Who’s inspiring you towards authenticity and greatness?
Larry can be contacted at larry@BROUGHTONadvisory.com
The Ethical Edge
LOVE AND KINDNESS
President, Tony Enrico LLC
“A true leader is not the one with the most followers, but the one who creates the most leaders.”
- Neale Donald Walsch
Life is filled with highs and lows. I am extremely fortunate to have a wonderful wife as my best friend and confidant. Michelle has been extraordinarily helpful in keeping me grounded and helping me to see the world from varying perspectives. Her counsel has counted often.
I have spent the large majority of my professional career as an executive in Fortune 500 companies where pressures are always high, the travel is extensive, and the demands never ending.
Throughout my career I’m grateful I have had my best friend and confidant’s support…most particularly from 2007-2012.
In 2007 I was asked to become the President/COO to turn around a nearly bankrupt $100M business. It proved to be the biggest professional challenge of my life.
Because the distressed business is headquartered in the Midwest, I was on the road 50-75% of the time. When I was home, my evenings and weekends were consumed with seemingly impossible financial, legal and operational issues. I missed many of my kids’ sporting events. The quality time with my family was infrequent. Regardless, Michelle remained understanding and supportive.
Being the “turnaround” guy is extremely hard work. The adage “it’s lonely at the top” is true. One must demonstrate confidence and communicate with clarity yet, continuously deal with complex and paradoxical business and people problems that pull on you.
Often, at a most important moment, my best friend and confidant was there for me. Michelle’s listening could be accompanied with sage counsel, offering a significant perspective to help me reframe my responsibilities. On one such occasion, after a time of listening to my professional challenges, she offered profound words, which to this day, echo in my mind: “Tony, do what you must do with love and kindness.”
Granted, always operating with “love and kindness” is easier said than done. However, if you are committed to being a great leader, integrating love and kindness into your daily actions does create very positive results.
Tony can be contacted at Tony@TonyEnrico.com
The Ethical Edge
inspiring Leaders of Integrity
CEO, Association of California Cities-Orange County
“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”
- Albert Einstein
I’m a servant leader. Early in my career, I knew that I wanted to help groups of people meet their goals. I know many professionals who have made very meaningful and impressive careers out of servant leadership. But the most influential servant leader in my life is not a professional acquaintance, but a personal friend and spiritual teacher named Peter. He set himself apart not only by adding value to his customers, but by extending his servant leadership to his entire life…his friends, students, family, and every individual in his experience. When I realized what he was doing, I realized I wanted the same for my life.
Peter continually impresses me with his desire…his utter personal fulfillment in service to others. He doesn’t push. He doesn’t pressure. He observes. He listens. He inquires. He gets to know people because he loves people. And he adds value by responding to the values of his subject. He adds value in small, medium and significant ways. In watching him, I realized that my desire was to add value to everyone in my life… my staff, my customers, my board, my kids, my family, my friends, my acquaintances. This doesn’t mean I am a door mat or that I give up my personal needs or boundaries; these are important and remain intact. But, it does mean that I am committed to looking for ways to add value to other’s lives.
Can I be helpful, encouraging, supportive? Can I bring joy, levity, or wisdom? Do my acquaintances have objectives that I can help them meet? Can I listen, honor feelings, consider perspectives, or simply hold the elevator when everyone else is rushed? The bottom line? Can I give to others anything they value? I’ve found that it’s easy. If you love people …truly love them… you want to give. You want to see them succeed. You want to see them smile.
The more I ponder the notion of servant leadership, the more I realize it is a life style, not a business model. And to those who say I am putting myself second, the truth is adding to someone’s life adds exponentially to my life, my value, my well-being. It makes me wealthy in spirit, and gives my life meaning beyond my career.
I am on a life-long journey of learning and growth and this means adding value to those that cross my path. I want to thank my teacher and friend, Peter, for leaving the bread crumbs on his life’s path that led me not just to a career, but a life of servant leadership.
Lacy Kelly can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ethical Edge
inspiring Leaders of Integrity
KEEP UP YOUR DAUBER!
OC Business Professional
“Don’t get your Dauber down.”
I met Cecil Miller in 1959. As PE instructor and coach at Cherry Park Grade School in Portland, Coach Miller was my mentor in the 6th- 8th grades. He used athletics to teach life lessons and build character. He was the first person in my life to point out that only perfect practice leads to perfect execution. He was talking about life’s habits.
Coach Miller believed success required attention to detail. On one occasion during track season, Coach pointed out that my toes had to be pointed directly at the finish line for maximum speed. His advice helped me gain over an inch per stride. The Life Lesson? Any action not aligned with the goal is a deterrent.
By encouraging me to make my teammates better, Coach taught another Life Lesson: Praise in public; criticize (constructively) only in private. Then Coach would often add, “You know, you can apply this stuff in the classroom.”
Coach Miller’s Life Lessons were endless. But since you, my reader are pursuing your influence for good using a Ph D in emotional intelligence, let me describe how Coach Miller demonstrated the power of positive influence.
I believe he helped Nolan Ryan throw his 7th No-Hitter even though the two of them never met! When I asked my grade school friend, Tom House, how influential Coach Miller had been in his life, Tom said Coach had affected every positive action in his life. Wow!
By the 1990’s Tom had become the preeminent coach and mentor for Major League Baseball pitchers. After Nolan Ryan pitched his 7th No-Hitter at age 42, he told Sports Illustrated that Tom had added 7 years to his career. Since Coach Miller had influenced everything in Tom House’s life, we might conclude that Coach Miller helped Nolan Ryan pitch that last no-hitter! It’s important to note that both Tom and Nolan have used their fame to be influencers for good throughout their lives.
Recently, I learned that Tom House and Russell Williams were Fraternity Brothers at USC. Should we connect some dots between Russell Williams and Cecil Miller? I’ll let my reader ponder that one!
To thousands of kids over the years of his professional life, Coach Cecil Miller said “Don’t get your Dauber down; See you tomorrow!” No one I knew could ever tell me definitively what a Dauber is. But, for me, it came to mean optimism. And, See you tomorrow… focus on tomorrow with optimism!
Keep your Dauber up! Thanks Coach Miller.
Cam Sinclair can be contacted at email@example.com
The Ethical Edge
The Art Of Integrity
Founder/President, Upshot Consultants
“The purpose of life is to discover your gift.
The meaning of life is to give your gift away.”
Guided Discovery. That’s the term Steve used and instantly I realized that was the path he had taken me on without my knowing it. According to Dictionary.com, “to guide” is defined as assisting a person travelling through an unfamiliar area and “to discover” means to gain insight or knowledge of something previously unseen or unknown. Putting these together, Guided Discovery goes something like this: assisting a person travelling through an unfamiliar area, helping them gain insight or knowledge of something new.
The Steve I have mentioned is Steve Alexander, then the Senior Vice President of Circulation at the Los Angeles Times, an organization where I spent a 25-year career before my current career in the nonprofit sector. At the time I was a senior manager on the circulation team and, after a significant shuffle, I found myself reporting directly to Steve. This was significant because all I had heard about from previous supervisors was that Steve was “very hard to work for.” Now as a young manager reporting to this hard guy, I my mind was racing with a fair amount of fear.
So what did I experience? Exactly the opposite! The opposite of hard is soft yet Steve was anything but soft! In fact, he was quite tough, but fair in his distribution of toughness. What I mean is that quickly I found my experience with Steve was anything but fearful. In fact, working with him became a time of great professional awareness and growth. He was a significant influencer in my life and guided me through the unfamiliar territory of discovering how to be an effective leader.
To be a bit more specific, Steve led by identifying potential, providing opportunity, listening, allowing for mistakes, and guiding each step of the way. This was new for me. I had not experienced a leader who really saw something in me, allowed me the autonomy and responsibility to try new things, and let me learn the hard lessons of failure, knowing it would make me better and stronger. In this last sentence lies the true essence of guiding, rather than directing or managing practiced by so many senior level executives. Guiding allows the natural skills and gifts of someone to explode!
Why is Steve’s guidance significant now, several years later? I am the husband, father, servant, and leader I am today, in part, because of the investment Steve made with Guided Discovery in my life. Now, I often turn to this tool as a way to work alongside those I have the honor to lead and get to experience the positive results in others. So, Steve, your impact endures. Thank you!
Bok Karcher can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org