Ethical Edge

By Russell Williams

Ethical Edge

The Muse for an Ethical Life

The Ethical Edge
The Art of Integrity
The Muse for an Ethical Life


McDermott & Bull Executive Search

“The most powerful moral influence is example.”
Huston Smith

As with all of us, there are many people who have served as brilliant mentors for me throughout my life.  However, in the context of The Ethical Edge community and the wonderful inspiration and clarity I have gained from knowing Russ Williams for many years, it was easy for me to select the person who came my way and inspired me to work on ethics in my life.

I spent 20+ years as a corporate guy and after a dozen or so of these years, I had the chance to start working with a truly great man who would influence the rest of my life more than he realized.  Capt. Edward C. Whelan Jr. was in his second career, after serving our country as a Captain in the U. S. Navy which included command of naval vessels during two tours of duty in Vietnam.

Ed knew so many things that I have never even imagined – he is the kind of person I have always wished I could be – comfortable in his own skin, fully present, balanced, and most important, real.

I, on the other hand, seemed to be engaged in a constant struggle during those days I worked with Ed.  I was not comfortable enough with myself to be present or real, and the lack of trust in many relationships in my working life reflected this truth.  Ed used to say to me: “why do you talk about how to spin a message or a situation?”  He genuinely didn’t understand why I could not just focus on the reality and truth of each situation.  It seemed so natural to him, while his idea seemed so old fashioned to me.

Sometimes, when a wise mentor influences someone, the effect can be delayed a long while.  That is what happened to me.  Ed shared many significant ideas with me in the early-mid 1990’s, but I remained stuck in my self-confined  paradigm even after leaving the corporate world and joining McDermott & Bull Executive search in 2003.  However, what I now understand, Ed’s words and presence never really left me.

My life has changed drastically for the better over the last 10 years.  It is filled so wonderfully with example after example of ethical and true people who have inspired me.

As  I look back on the guidance that Ed offered me, I realize he must have  been with me in spirit every step of the way.  I can’t wait to share this message with Ed Whelan, my ethical muse.


This week’s article was contributed by Jeff Black.

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