COMMENTARY 776.5: Coaching for Character

I’ve spent lots of time with some of the world’s most successful coaches. I discovered that many of them think about character a lot, especially traits that are important to winning – like self-discipline, perseverance, resiliency, and courage. They pay less attention to virtues like honesty, integrity, responsibility, compassion, respect, and fairness – aspects of character that make a good …

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT FOR TEENS #11: A Life-Changing Decision

Mallory Holtman, the first baseman for her college softball team, had no idea she was about to make a choice that would change her life. During a game that could determine the conference championship, Sara Tucholsky, a player for the other team, hit the ball over the center field fence. Sara was only 5’2”, had had only three hits all …

COMMENTARY 776.3: I’m Better Than That

Ron, a nine-year-old boy, was being raised by his mother who didn’t know how to cope with his uncontrollable temper. She knew he was angry that his father had abandoned him, and she tried professional counseling, but nothing seemed to work. So she sent Ron to spend the summer on his grandparents’ farm. When he came home, he was a …

COMMENTARY 776.2: Eighteen Random Life Rules

I love maxims, those concise capsules of worldly wisdom. I collect them and write them and, of course, love to share them. Here are 18 random rules of life worth posting on your mirror or, better yet, using as dinner-time discussion starters. Find the lesson in every failure and you’ll never fail. The likelihood that you’re right is not increased …

COMMENTARY 775.1: Mothers — Saints or Scapegoats?

What class of people has been more glorified or vilified than Mothers? On the one hand, we are frequently confronted with an idealized image of the sainted, angel mother, often with white hair and hands callused from work. She is the embodiment of the most beneficent human qualities: nurturing, loving, devoted and wise. And she  is the favorite subject of …

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT FOR TEENS #8: Trust, Promises, and Good Friends

Hi, this is Michael Josephson with Something to Think About. Sarah was 16 and when her mom saw that her grades were slipping she said “No parties until you get your grades up.” This led to a nasty fight with Sarah calling her mom unfair and her mom calling Sarah irresponsible.  Later Sara tried a different approach. “You’re right,” she …

COMMENTARY 774.5: Justin’s Introduction to Candor

When my son Justin was in high school, I went to an open house to meet his teachers. I was taken aback when one teacher casually mentioned that she had disciplined my son for cheating on a homework assignment. I asked my son why he hadn’t told me about this incident. “You didn’t ask,” he said. To say the least, …

COMMENTARY 774.3: Accountability in the Workplace

Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time consulting with large companies concerned with strengthening their ethical culture. Although I’m sure the leaders I work with care about ethics and virtue for their own sake, I know the driving force to seek outside assistance is self-interest. The risk of reputation-damaging and resource-draining charges resulting from improper conduct is so high …

COMMENTARY 774.2: He Made You

As Lily Tomlin said, “No matter how cynical I get, I can’t keep up.” Our economy has been shattered by widespread corporate fraud; kids lie, steal, and cheat at unprecedented rates; and their parents beat up each other or referees at youth sports events or supply alcohol to fuel organized hazing. Our confidence in the integrity of journalistic institutions, the …

COMMENTARY 774.1: Acting on Principle and Good Intentions

I once heard a story about an emergency medical technician I’ll call Jake who was summoned to help an unconscious woman. When he arrived, she had no pulse. From her color and dilated eyes, he could tell she’d suffered serious brain damage. Still, he did his job exceptionally well, trying over and over to restart her heart. She finally regained …

COMMENTARY 773.5 & STTA #6: The Master Carpenter and His Crumbling Integrity

Hi, this is Michael Josephson with something to think about. Joe was a master carpenter who worked for Martin, a very successful builder of fine homes for 40 years. When he told Martin he wanted to retire, Martin thanked him graciously and gave him a $10,000 check for Joe’s years of service. Martin owned a magnificent lot with a spectacular …

COMMENTARY 773.3: What’s So Important About the Law?

Did you know today is Law Day? In 1958 President Eisenhower declared May 1st Law Day to honor the critical role of law in our unique constitutional democracy. It may seem peculiar to some to celebrate the concept and reality of law, but the truth is that most of us vastly under-appreciate the significance of law to our way of thinking …

COMMENTARY 773.1: Good Ethics Make Better Relationships

While I believe that good things tend to happen to people who consistently choose the high road, the correlation between ethics and success is a loose one at best. Thus, it’s pretty hard to sincerely promote ethics by appeals to self-interest. What’s more, when self-interest is the controlling justification for moral behavior, moral reasoning is replaced by a pragmatic cost-benefit …

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT #4: I Just Have to Outrun You

Hi, this is Michael Josephson with something to think about. During a camping trip, Marie and Jessica were hiking in a trail when they saw a big black bear. Marie started to take off her backpack. Jessica whispered, “What are you going to do?” Marie answered, “I’m going to run for it.”

COMMENTARY 772.5: Planned Abandonment

Management guru Peter Drucker advocated a practice he called planned abandonment. He stressed how important it is that managers develop the wisdom and courage to regularly review what their organization is doing and determine whether it’s worth doing. He urged executives to note and resist the systemic and emotional forces that make it difficult to abandon activities that drain resources, …

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT #3: Leadership on a Bus

Hi, this is Michael Josephson with something to think about. Mr. Martin told his English class that leadership was “influencing meaningful change either through your own conduct or by motivating others to act,” and he assigned an essay requiring students to write about a personal experience with leadership. The students groaned, insisting they couldn’t think of anything, so Mr. Martin …

COMMENTARY 772.2: Ethics — Easier Said Than Done

As a full-time ethicist – can you believe there even is such a thing? – I spend lots of time talking and writing about right and wrong. One thing I’ve learned is that in the last analysis, consistently doing the right thing is easier said than done. For one thing, it’s not always easy knowing what’s right. We want to …

COMMENTARY 771.4: The Responsibility to Decide

Frank is a new supervisor who wants to do well. Maria consistently comes in late. When he confronts her, she makes a joke out of it. Hoping to win friendship and loyalty, Frank is painfully patient with her, but Pat, a conscientious employee, urges him to do more. Soon others begin to come in late, and Pat quits. Frank feels …

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT FOR TEENS #2: Is This Generous or Just Dumb?

Hi, this is Michael Josephson for CHARACTER COUNTS! with “Something to Think About” A few years ago, I told this story on the radio and it generated a lot of disagreement. Jack was excited when he was given an unexpected bonus check of $1,000 from his employers. He was anxious to rush home to tell his family, but before he …