The beginning of each New Year always allows me to reflect on the past year and plan for the upcoming year. This year was no different. My wife and I took a very relaxing vacation to Florida. On the plane ride there, I had been reading a new book called “Judgment – How Winning Leaders Make Great Calls,” by Noel M. Tichy and Warren G. Bennis. This book promised to be very interesting and full of gold nuggets concerning character education, and how our character values impact the judgment calls we all have to make as leaders on a daily basis. I have always believed that “leading with character first” is the most important step any person can possibly take to live a healthy lifestyle worthy of example to others. I have even spoken about this subject called” Judgment” during the seminars that focused on my climb up Mt. Ararat (altitude of 17,000 ft) in the late 80’s.
Well, as fate would have it (and I believe there is a reason for everything that happens to us), on the last night of our vacation, my wife and I were enjoying a leisurely dinner before the New Year midnight festivities, when my wife overheard a couple at another dinner table talking about a Florida University team that had literally expelled dozens of football players recently from the team because of cheating on an open book exam. As many of you are aware, at Deutsch’s Gymnastics Training Center we are passionate about helping to mold our athletes’ character by shaping their values and discipline, so you can imagine that this story was of real interest to me and a real shocker too. I could imagine one or two or even several players expelled for cheating, but dozens? I had never heard of such numbers before. However, I am told that at least half of this team of 60 or so players cheated on their open book exam. That is both astounding and shocking! What does that say about the leaders of the coaching staff as well as the leaders of the players themselves? Furthermore, it reminded me of one of my team captains at Deutsch’s telling me that cheating was extremely prevalent at our local high school. So, this kind of thing is not just happening in Florida. How very sad, and disappointing. Well, in this book on judgment, the authors make a case for the fact that our actions always follow our values, and our values shape our character. Isn’t that interesting! No rocket science right? I believe this kind of behavior is a very real problem in our society today and permeates the moral fabric of our society today. Somehow, we must have drifted so far off course as a culture and as a society that we no longer even recognize our own moral compass. How shameful! Do we not have the dignity and fortitude, as a society and culture and nation, to re-capture that moral compass? This month I encourage each of you to be courageous enough to set a New Year’s resolution and determine to “lead by example with character first.” Each of us as one can make a difference in the lives and quality of lives of those around us that we touch each day of our lives.
I am reminded of what Robert Schuller once said, “It is not hard for any one of us to see the tree that came from a single Apple seed, but it is only God who can see the number of apples that can come from a single seed.” Let’s make sure that each of us does everything we can to help all the apples develop great character. “Lead With Character First!”