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Date: Thu, 21 Oct 2004 11:09:01 EDT
Subject: Essays on Excellence # 433
Good Morning Freedom Fighters and Truth Seekers,

Character and integrity are the classic measurements of a statesman but very, very seldom of a politician.  The Winston Churchills, Margaret Thatchers, Ghandis, Lincolns, Washingtons, Adams and Jeffersons of the world.  Individuals of focus, faith and more faith.  With only twelve days until the elections, I hope each of you has determined who the statesmen are and who the politicians are.  But now the job is not yet done.  While your vote is important, it is also critical that your talk to everyone you know about exercising their duty and responsibility to cast their ballots as a citizen of this great nation...the Constitutional Republic.  If you are an employer, please talk to your people and encourage them to vote.  You can share with them the reasons that have led to your decision.  Political, economic, business and financial literacy is something to work into your training plan for the coming year.   If you need help with this, please contact me.  We have comprehensive training materials and programs to help bring these topics to life.   It will help everyone be able to make better choices and base their decisions on facts and not lies and soundbites.

Never Give Up!
by Keith Fiala

Ever since I was a little boy, I've known in my heart that I
wanted to be a professional trumpet player. Pretty much everyone
discouraged the idea because "the music business is tough to break into" I
was told.

Even after receiving a full-ride scholarship to UT, Austin to study with
Raymond Crissara, I was told "you won't last". After my second semester at
UT, I received a letter from the University stating that my "full-ride"
scholarship funding had been pulled by the Texas help
keep instate kids instate, and undergrad out of staters paying some or full
tuition. Being young, and hearing all my life that music was a bad choice,
I too believed that music was too hard to break in to. So - I set out into
the world, and found a steady "day job". Finding myself locked into a
career with a LD telephone provider and NOT playing at all, I was miserable!
I gave up my "BIG" dream to become just another worker bee in a huge hive we
call society. 2 years of this "worker bee syndrome" went by before I even
looked at my trumpet again. Feeling lost, miserable, and out of sorts, I
began to incorporate practice into my daily routine again.

About a year later, I was auditioned to join a band just starting out that
would play R&B, Funk, and Soul.........called Memphis Train. I was hired!

9 years later, this band would become the mainstay of my income, and help me
realize my life long dream! I AM a full time professional trumpet player
and private instructor! How? I was given an article about a man in Desoto,
TX by the name of Clint "Pops" McLaughlin. He was a private teacher able to
help trumpet players fix "high note" problems. My first session with Pops
was a 4 hour long butt kicker! But come to find out, the biggest hurdle I
had to overcome, was my state of mind. I believed that I was no good, and
that I couldn't do what I really wanted to do...........but refused to give
up. Since changing my outlook, I have more than exceeded my playing goals,
and have set new standards for myself!

1. NEVER give up - failure comes when you stop trying!
2. Be nice, but not a pushover - no one likes to work with an ego-maniac or
a whiny child!
3. Think Positive - reach for solutions, don't dwell on problems!
4. Humor & Laughter = a smile. I have fixed more problems with a smile than
I could shake a stick at!
5. Eat your vegetables!!!!

To our fellow Americans:

We have given much thought to the values and characteristics that make a great athlete. Our lives have been spent trying to run farther, push further, and jump higher than the person beside us, or across the field of our chosen sport. With years of training and exhaustive competition beneath our belts, we have identified the values necessary to compete and win--values like personal strength, determination, a sense of fair play and faith.

The same qualities that make a great athlete make a great President--the determination to do what is right, regardless of the latest polls, the personal strength to bear the weight of the nation on your shoulders, and the faith that a higher power will direct the actions of good people.We see in President Bush these same qualities.In 2001, our nation was attacked without cause or provocation. The President's values saw us through those dark days after the terrorist attack. The economy was rocked by the dual blows of the terrorists' cowardly action and the reckless disregard of the rules by a few rogue executives. But President Bush's decisive, principled leadership has moved America forward, and today our nation is safer and our economy is strong and getting stronger.The fight against terrorism takes decisiveness. It takes continued support for our troops and first responders. But most importantly, it takes courage and inspirational leadership in the White House. In these critical times, our President has had the courage to stand up and do what's right.For that and for his unwavering character, we choose George W. Bush as our President for the next four years. He is a leader we can depend on to make the tough decisions and the right decisions. Please join us in supporting a candidate of courage, President Bush--a leader who backs our troops defending our nation and shares our values.


Please Click to see larger image.

Character Counts
by Michael Josephson
Josephson Institute of Ethics.

Martha Stewart Did the Crime and Must Do the Time

OK, it`s official: Martha Stewart, a woman of great talent and wealth,
is now a convicted felon, and it`s very likely she will serve time
in a federal prison.

It`s hard to deny that her crime -- lying to government investigators
about a questionable stock transaction -- seems trivial compared to
the billion-dollar accounting fraud charges against top executives at
WorldCom, HealthSouth and Adelphia and the multi-million-dollar
allegations against the former CEOs of Enron and Tyco. What`s more,
most of us could see ourselves trying to lie our way out of a jam
like she did. Come on, we do it when the stakes are much lower than
the ones she faced.

The prosecutor says that Ms. Stewart`s fame was not a factor in the
way the case was handled, but I find that hard to believe. How could
the government responsibly ignore the high visibility of this case
and the inescapable reality that the way it was handled would send
important messages that either strengthen or undermine the law?

Of course the government would have been more lenient if this was a
low-profile case beneath the public radar. Unfortunately, we have
created huge free-crime zones where criminal offenses are ignored
or downgraded in an overburdened system dependent on plea-bargaining
and discretionary enforcement. Recently, a high-ranking Justice
Department official told me that informal prosecutorial guidelines
require white-collar crimes to involve millions of dollars.

But if we hope to deter lying and the underlying crimes people lie
about we have to uphold our laws -- especially when everyone is

What Ms. Stewart did was a crime and it`s important to the system
that she do the time.

Be What You Want to Be

"What are you gonna be when you grow up?" It was a serious question.
As kids we knew we were going to be something and that to be
something was to be someone. Even as our ambitions changed we
knew that what we were going to be was important and it was our

When I entered UCLA Law School in 1964 I wanted to do good, yet
when I graduated three years later I just wanted to do well. My
life`s mission had changed, not as the result of conscious choice,
but as a surrender to the momentum of an elaborate matchmaking
ritual, the ultimate competition to get job offers from the most
prestigious employers, to get the most hard-to-get jobs.

Money was definitely a factor, as almost all of us had student
loans to pay off, but the larger force was a desire for validation.
I was, by inclination and training, highly competitive, and getting
a coveted job was the ultimate trophy. Intoxicated with a desire to
win, I abandoned my wish to be significant in favor of a need to be

I was lucky. The tax firm I thought I wanted didn`t make me an offer,
so I took a teaching position at the University of Michigan Law
School. I loved teaching and stayed with it for nearly 20 years
before I founded an ethics institute in honor of my parents.

You may start out intending to be the captain, but if you`re not
careful you may find yourself drifting in another direction, a
passenger on your own ship. Your life is too important to be little.
Be what you want to be.

Walk of Hearts

Joe Andrews is a solid good citizen in a small community called
Canoga Park in the San Fernando Valley (part of the greater Los
Angeles metropolitan area). He`s a civic leader, a person who
devotes lots of time trying to improve his community. There are
probably millions of Joe Andrewses who quietly serve their neighbors
and neighborhoods, but Joe came up with a truly great idea.

Living near Hollywood and its famous Walk of Fame where the names
of celebrities are embedded in stars cemented into the sidewalk,
Joe thought a similar monument to important people should adorn
major streets in downtown Canoga Park. But he selected a class of
people far more worthy than movie and TV stars. Inspired by the
dedication of his mother, who worked at one of the schools he
attended, and the positive influence that certain teachers had
during his formative years, he chose to salute and memorialize
the contribution of great teachers in the San Fernando Valley.

It`s such a simple and elegant idea. The community is urged to
reflect on their school years and identify individual teachers
who touched their lives. The selected educators are honored with
a dignified heart-shaped plaque embedded in the sidewalk. The
heart contains the classic teacher`s apple in the upper left
but symbolically it is opened at the bottom.

It`s classy but, more than that, it`s a wonderfully unique way
of paying tribute to the way great teachers enrich communities
and change lives.

Please consider introducing a similar tradition in your community.
Joe did it and so can you. 

Pressures Are Just Temptations in Disguise

According to a survey of American workers, more than half said they
did something unethical or illegal in the previous year because of
"pressures." And if we polled the scores of corporate executives
recently convicted of lying or fraud, I`d bet most of them would
attribute their ethical lapses to pressures.

For that matter, weren`t the school administrators who devised
deceptive and fraudulent schemes to enhance student performance
or understate dropout or violence rates just yielding to overpowering
pressures? And with all the pressure to perform, can we really
blame students for cheating?

So, we`ve identified the culprit causing the deterioration of our
moral ozone -- it`s irresistible pressure. Thus, we shift
responsibility for every form of human weakness from the individual
to the system. Don`t blame the liar; blame the law. Don`t blame the
cheater; blame the test. If we want virtue, we`ve got to remove pressure.

What a bunch of hooey! Let`s face it: "pressures" are no more than
"temptations" in disguise. The difference is that while we`ve come
to expect people to succumb to pressure, we`ve always expected them
to overcome temptation.

Yes, lots of people will lie, cheat or steal in the face of pressure.
But that`s an explanation, not a justification. Pressures, temptations
-- call them what you will -- are part of life. Sure, it would be
helpful if we had less pressure, but it`s far more important that
we have more character.

What we need is higher not lower standards. We need to reject
perspectives of human nature that expect surrender and restore
our belief in our inherent capacity to know and do what`s right
even when it costs more than we want to pay.

"I`m Only a One-Star"

Years ago, I asked about 60 Army generals in charge of purchasing
weapons and supplies whether we were getting the most out of our
defense dollars. After some muttering one officer said, "Look, we
do a pretty good job, but this is a political process."

I asked what he meant and he added, "Well, if the chairman of the
Appropriations Committee comes from a district that makes trucks,
we might buy those trucks even if they`re not what we really need."

"Why would you do that?" I asked.

"Because you want to keep the chairman happy."

"So you bribe him by buying trucks you don`t need?"

"It`s not bribery," he barked. "It`s extortion! If we don`t help
his constituents he won`t help us."

Another general added, "That`s the way it is, always was, and
always will be. It`s the system. There`s nothing any of us can do
about it."

"But you`re a general," I protested.

"Yeah," he replied, "but I`m only a one-star."

"I`m only a one-star." The phrase is a metaphor for
unaccountability based on the illusion of powerlessness.

I don`t buy it.

Maybe one person, even a general, can`t single-handedly reform a
"system," but it`s a mistake to underestimate the power of
steadfast integrity.

I know there`s often a gap between reality -- what is -- and ethics
-- what ought to be -- but people of character know it`s their
responsibility to try to close the gap.

Edward Everett Hale put it well: "It`s true I am only one. But I am
one. And the fact that I cannot do everything will not prevent me
from doing what I can do."

Think how much better the world would be if more of us just did
what we could do.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that
Character Counts.

Please go do what you can each and every day.

William Prouty, CLU RHU CBC CEC MBA PhD
CEO and Founder
Champions For Life Foundation
PO Box 989, Sun City, CA 92586-0989
909-301-0605  Phone
909-301-0606  FAX

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