I mentioned Gus Lee’s Courage: The Backbone of Leadership in the post Following the Rules is Never Enough, but it is worth a bit more attention. Lee was mentored by Norman Schwarzkopf and his excellent book, in print since 2006, taps into old wisdom. Thought provoking and practical, Lee says there are only three high core values; integrity, courage and character. He then makes the compelling case that all other values, including virtues like honesty, honor, ethics, service and loyalty, while admirable and desirable are middle core. The point he makes is that all other values are a by product of your character, integrity and courage. Lee says, “There’s a huge gap between a good person and a person of character, there’s an equivalently huge gap between ethics and courage”
Honor (no lying, cheating or stealing)
Ethics (following ethical rules)
Person of Character
Integrity (acting for what is right)
Courage (stopping wrongs)
Character (sustained integrity and courage)
A good person follows the rules. A person of character sets a much higher bar.
“When we strive to build our character first, we obey teachings so ancient and enduringly truthful that they reach back to Moses, Aristotle, and Confucius. Presume for a moment that the ancient philosophers—the lovers of knowledge and the folks we had to study in college—are more accurate in their assessments of human nature than today’s media advertisers. With that presumption, you can set your sail against the popular culture. This is not a bad thing, for our culture pitches economic unease, political paranoia, work dread, life stress, health fears, ethical gridlock, moral obesity, mass divorces, hordes of angry ignored teens, persistent hesitancy, and chronic timidity. Perhaps I have understated it” – Gus Lee
It is a good book. I recommend it.