Bracher (Questions & Responses)
I am frightened. Recently my husband returned from one of several long business
trips. He has never been under such pressure to sell products, raise
capital and keep his board happy. We talk, as we have for the twenty-nine
years we have been married. He considers me his best friend and sounding
board. So, this is what scares me.
were talking about his job, where he is the president,
and he said that things were rough, so rough that
he hopes he is dead before they ever get this rough
again. What can I say or do to help him?
Now, more than ever, we need our friends and loved ones. It is their understanding
and support that will sustain us. Your husband sounds overwhelmed and
why not? These are rough times. Keep the doors of communication open.
Continue to listen. If this is a one-time conversation, the listening
may be all that is needed. If the conversations continue over an extended
time so that it is clear the conditions are not temporary, then help
him plan an exit to a healthier situation. Life is short! Handle with
Three months ago my wife came home from a "Business Opportunity Meeting" she
was invited to by someone at our church and she was very excited. She said
that a couple of people who spoke at the meeting were showing off checks
for over $25,000 that they had received in monthly bonuses for putting together
sales organizations selling vitamins and herbs. No matter how much I told
my wife that this sounded like some kind of shady pyramid scheme she said
we could use the extra money and she was, "going for it".
far, after spending $700 on product and training
materials, she has made a grand total of $140 in
commissions. More troubling is that my wife has gotten
many of our friends and relatives into her little
enterprise. I think she has too much pride to admit
she's been had by visions of "striking it rich".
She still insists that with more time and by recruiting
even more friends and relatives that she will start
making big money. I'm worried that the only thing
we're going to end up with is a bunch of damaged
relationships from the people my wife has encouraged
to join her business crusade.
there any chance that my wife's business can pan
out? Should I force her to give this up before any
more money and time are thrown away?
Obviously, you love your wife, care about your friends and are concerned
that your wife's business skills may not match the needs of the enterprise.
Losing any of the above can be costly
therefore: Ask your wife
if she is motivated by the mission of her new enterprise or by its promise
of dollars. In all likelihood, your wife needs to make her own decisions,
so you help best by asking her the right focus questions.
among the successful people I know, all know profits
are the by-product not the goal. If the product is
good, it will sell assuming it is properly capitalized,
marketed and supported. Most business owners, such
as your wife, develop budgets for enterprises and
once the investment capital is exhausted, they decide
to dig deeper or say "enough" and close
the doors. Check the company. Check your wife's plan.
Be open about the budget. Make the decision. Move
on. Integrity is to be maintained, personally and
When are we going to get serious about keeping promises to our children? Our
marriages? Our values? Our societies? Isn't it time we start keeping our promises?
Yes, it is time to address promises. We make them all the time. We can help
to rebuild moral tone of our society. We demonstrate our promise keeping
when we show up on time (or even early). We honor promises when we listen
attentively and not judgmentally.
keep promises when we work for the pay we take. We
keep promises when we nurture children, ours and
those of others. We keep promises when we encourage
others to "try", and congratulate them
when they address disappointment appropriately.
keep promises when we thank those who have helped
us. Promise making and promise keeping are the foundation
of trust, respect, dignity, autonomy and relationship.
a list of your promises made and kept. If they fail
to match up, retrace your steps and fulfill the unfilled
commitments. Sometimes the "magic" words
are no more complicated than saying: please; thank
you; and/or I am sorry, I made a mistake.
How is it that in these post 9/11 days and the "War on Terror" we
wear flags, wave flags, put up posters in support of those yet let the other
guy die for us? Where is our responsibility?
Every person in a family, community and society has responsibilities. If
you are doing the job you are supposed to do: learning and growing, contributing,
supporting, honoring, and investing in the future; well, there is a good
chance you are contributing.
far as "the other guy dying for you" --
there are those who serve in the military and have
chosen to "be in harm's way." Others boarded
planes on 9/11/01 and died because they happened
to be the innocent victims of homicidal terrorists.
Remain productive and supportive on behalf of your
society. Freedom has never been free; it is not now,
nor will it be tomorrow. Our responsibilities are
the same as before: work and remain vigilant at whatever
you do and wherever you are.
those whose service lies in other endeavors.
I am a Catholic who feels betrayed by the behavior of the Catholic Church,
most typified by Cardinal Law in Boston. Even though he has resigned,
I am left feeling that (the) integrity of my Faith remains damaged. What
can the Catholic Church, or Cardinal Law, or even I, do to repair the
damage and begin to rebuild the trust?
The current mess in the Roman Catholic Church is awful. Some small percentage
of the clergy has broken laws.
they have broken moral, civil or criminal laws are
for someone else to judge.
of titles or tasks, whether in business or religion,
leaders who break the rules of relationships, violating
trust, put at risk their organization's future.
reference to your own course of action, please consider
Institutions (business, government, religion) are
bigger than any fraction of irresponsible individuals;
2. Learning from mistakes (big or small) is the key for growth and renewal.
Most of us have learned more from failure than from success;
3. People in power who hide behind laws and precedents prolong their own
pain, and fail to capture the real moment for meaning. They withdraw from
learning and minimize the possibility for a constructive legacy; and,
4. For you, the response seems clear: maintain your values and support the
institution you love.
in Jim Bracher's Integrity Matters newspaper
column on March 12, 2003
"In faith -
as well as life - integrity does matter"
sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church
has not been handled well by those in charge. In
your opinion, will that part of the Church suffer
in membership growth in the years ahead? Will other
faith based groups or churches be tarnished by what
has happened with the Romans? In other words, do
people at large see a difference in religious groups
or do they just lump them all together?
is tarnished by abusive behaviors. Such behaviors
corrupt, and when ignored, degenerate from corrosive
to destructive. They cost any institution its reputation,
productivity and support financial and otherwise.
It is bad business for the church. It is bad business
for government. It is bad business, period.
human beings do perceive differences, both subtle
and obvious. At least one can assume such thoughtfulness
of those who see inappropriate behaviors whether
in business, politics, or the church. When stresses
increase and individuals feel fears, economic or
cultural, there can be a tendency to close
ranks and harden judgments.
this time in history, integrity is under attack,
whether by commission or omission, and levels of
trust are eroding in too many areas.
People may lump religious leadership into one category
Society will right itself and balance
will be restored.
Those looking for reasons to discount spirituality
along with organized religion will find reasons.
Those predisposed to take spirituality seriously
will continue to do so. Even imperfect religious
organizations, founded to spread the message of love,
compassion, repentance, and forgiveness, will experience
certain renewal and restoration.
leaders in government, business and education can
change how they function by becoming more responsive
to their constituencies, then religious leadership
can as well.
Maintain the long view of history and have faith
in the common sense of most people. Legitimate values
remain. Know your own, seek those who share your
priorities and be ready to blow the whistle on
those who attempt to corrupt that which you hold
precious. After all, integrity matters.
in Jim Bracher's Integrity Matters newspaper
column on February 12, 2003
dispute leaves one friend hurt"
About 15 months ago, I was winding down from a set
of tennis over drinks with one of my best friends.
As we were talking, I suddenly had an idea for what
I thought was a clever new product concept. When I
told my friend the idea he smiled and said something
like, Yeah, that would be great.
The idea drifted out of my consciousness almost immediately, as I assumed
it had for my friend.
week I was catching up on local gossip with my wife.
She casually informed me that my friends wife
told her that her husband has just sold his rights
in a new product to a big company with nationwide
distribution. As it turns out my best friend had
developed my idea designs, patents, copyrights,
etc. and then cashed in on it. When I confronted
the friend he said that he didnt really think
I was that serious about my idea and that it wasnt
til months after I told him the concept that he thought
it might be worth pursuing.
was devastated. I probably dont have any legal
rights to my idea, but its not the money part
of this thats plaguing me. There has been an
integrity break with my long time friend that is
irreconcilable. Yet, our wives and kids are inseparable.
How can I be true to myself, and at the same time
minimize the impact of my issues on others?
concerns are understandable. Your friendship has been
tainted by what you feel has been a breach of trust,
honesty and possibly some of your own naiveté.
So, how do you minimize the impact of this disappointment,
not only for you and your buddy, but also upon your
are three relationship "checks" that could
minimize damages to your friendships:
Assuming that you will not elect to call together
the other friends who gathered with you after the
tennis match many months ago and ask them to "reconstruct" the
conversations regarding the source of the idea; and
assuming that you have no desire to participate in
any kind of legal action, then you are completely
clear that the issue is really more about the friendship
than the dollars. If you pursue any legal recourse,
the consequences to the relationships may be serious.
Make your decision and don't look back.
Find an opportunity to clarify with your friend the
nature and depth of your concern. There is always
the possibility that you miscommunicated the seriousness
of your business idea and your desire to solicit
feedback about its viability prior to your own implementation.
Regardless of how this conversation turns out, you
will have learned: ways to improve the clarity of
your own communication; the receptivity of your friend
to share ownership for the "foul-up" in
your relationship, and, more effective ways to discuss
proprietary information, even among friends.
Remember that "integrity is congruence between
what you say and what you do, as well as what you
say about what you did". If you avoid legal
confrontation and find a shared ownership for the
problem - then the relationship can emerge even stronger
than before. You own some of the responsibility because
you discussed a business idea without fully disclosing
(or possibly even fully understanding at the time)
that you intended to make it your own.
may have been an expensive lesson. What was or is
at risk are money, friendship and family relationships.
Count the costs and learn from the experience.
SACRIFICE FOR SUCCESS (02-12-03) by James F. Bracher - a letter to the editor
Wednesday, February 12, 2003, three newspaper articles
presented me with information that caused me to write
to you about my concerns with integrity. Two were
editorials and one was a report on actions by a school
# ONE relates to members of a board of education
who are accepting what seems like the "easy
road" for high school athletes, rather than
the demanding road of learning and growing. The
Salinas Union High School District trustees vetoed
a proposal Tuesday (02-11-03) to keep some students
from participating in sports or other extracurricular
activities if they couldn't pass an exit exam by
the start of their senior year. While the details
of this state-mandated regulation sound demanding,
so is finding one's way in harsh economic times.
Sports and extracurricular activities may be important
- but they must never replace the building blocks
of civilization: language, communication and the
self-sufficiency skills related to math and science.
The Monterey County Herald, in a story written
by M. Christina Medina, quotes a board member,
Mr. Alan Styles espousing this rationale: "Some kids go to school just
to be able to play sports and join activities. We can't take that away." Here
is my first question: Is that integrity in educational leadership?
# TWO emerged from an editorial in The Californian
(02-12-03) entitled: "Community college budget
plan cuts to bone". The editor's words hit
me very hard: "The community colleges could
receive some of the biggest hits in the state's
effort to erase its record budget deficit. All
departments must face their fair share of cuts,
but those aimed at community colleges place them
at the brink of disaster and should be rethought.
The whole purpose of community colleges in California
is to make higher education affordable and accessible
to everyone. But that door would slam in the face
of many deserving Salinas-area people, young and
old, who rely on Hartnell to be there for them.
Governor Davis". . .a man who claims to be
the education governor, and a state that wants
to create jobs and turn out an educated workforce,
only sabotage their goals by allowing such cuts.
is my second question: Is that integrity in political
# THREE comes from concern about the next generation
being prepared to cope with extremely difficult
economic circumstances that seem likely to remain
with us for while. Mr. Bob Herbert, of the New
York Times, wrote about how difficult it is for
individuals to find jobs. He related a story of
people in Chicago who lined up in the freezing
cold on the false hope that a nearby Ford assembly
plant might be hiring. To the dismay of the thousands
waiting, there were no jobs. The title of his editorial
is "U.S. job picture looks grim". He
illustrated the difficulties of out of work people. "Joblessness
is right up there with war and terror as an ingredient
contributing to the high national anxiety. If you
want to see desperation close up, look at the eyes
of the increasing numbers of breadwinners who can't
find work" Mr. Herbert put together a clinching
statement, "Another enormously difficult problem
is the hard core of jobless, undereducated young
people, ages 16 -24m who are roaming the streets
constructive to do. There are 5.5 million of these out-of-work youngsters,
and that number is growing.
Here is my third question: Given the priorities portrayed in my first two
questions about the integrity of educational and political leadership, what
ought we be doing to restore confidence in our economic system for the next
I do not have the necessary information to judge the behaviors of educators
or politicians, nor am I an economist. What is clear to me after living
57 years, and working with business leaders for three decades, is that
liberty is never free. Building our future demands the very best in education
for every individual in our society. These are demanding times that require
extraordinary efforts. Success requires sacrifice, whether economic,
political, religious or educational.
economic engine is fueled by knowledge, innovation
and perspiration. Good minds, like agile bodies,
require diligence in practice and perseverance in
achieving high performance over time. The world we
live in, and in which we must compete for customers,
has not decided to give us "market share" only
because we are charming people; rather it is because
we have enjoyed the best, most open education system
in the world . The competitive-edge will always belong
to those who work hardest to remain prepared for
changing circumstances. Such preparedness requires
the very best that education can provide.
in our society means that we accept the demands for
mentoring the next generation with reference not
only to the costs, but also the commitments(emotional,
financial and educational) that we must make. There
is not time to blame anyone for our difficulties.
Our single and only legitimate response is to "be
an example" that demonstrates core values of
intensity, sensitivity and follow-through:
The future must be about learning about and serving the "greater good".
To answer your three questions, then:
Is that integrity in educational leadership?
Athletics are important, but should never become
the "tail that wags the dog" in our educational
system. The answer to your question would seem to
that integrity in political leadership?
A huge budget deficit requires tough choices. If
there are other valid alternatives for reductions
than the mortgaging of the educational future of
our next generation, then the answer would be "no."
ought we be doing to restore confidence in our economic
system for the next generation?
steps to ensure that honesty is rewarded and hypocrisy
rooted out in all of our institutions; make the pursuit
of public employment an honorable legacy contribution
for the gifted instead of the preferences which sometimes
make such service a safe haven for some who are under-qualified
or unqualified. The process should begin with parents
teaching accountability to their children--and modeling
it for them in practice! This is something you and
I can do, and do today.
Leaders in the Moslem religion have been quick to say that they are a peaceful
religion, yet these same leaders have not spoken out against either terrorism
itself, or the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq. Where is the integrity
One positive assumption is that religious values affirm life. Religious traditions
generally emerge when groups of individuals are trying to make sense
of their identity, how they should treat one another and the sources
of their values. It has never occurred to me that any caring spiritual
leader (or tradition) would encourage death and destruction.
events (floods, famines, diseases, wars, tidal waves,
fires and other disasters) occur with or without
permission or blessing. Current circumstances on
the world stage can easily create misunderstandings
between and among races, cultures and nations. There
is almost always wisdom in taking the longer view
that there is merit in withholding judgment of others "unless
we have a walked a mile in their shoes." Unless or
until we do, we will not understand and appreciate
the religious leaders of Islam, perhaps many would
choose to counsel peace if they were free to do so.
Extremists of practically any persuasion can propel
others into unthinkable actions. Definitely, advising
religious believers to pursue the radical destruction
of other cultures lacks integrity. There are hundreds
of millions of Moslems for whom such behavior must
be totally unacceptable.
before we become too quick to condemn others, we
ought to think about the actions of some of our own
ancestors. In the early history of the United States,
individuals who were considered to be witches in
New England were burned at the stake by very self-righteous
Christians. Our history books report that zealous
believers in the Middle Ages, both Roman Catholics
and Protestants, were guilty of crimes against humanity
with punishments and murders they carried out against
is neither good religion nor wise business to stereotype
people. With a global economy built around inter-dependence,
we would be well advised to seek common values and
work to build bridges of understanding. We will live
longer and better with concepts of forgiveness. Integrity
demands that we recognize differences encourage mutual
respect and uphold our own principles.
As parents of two pre-teens, my husband and I are concerned with some negative
trends in our community. These days there is far too much focus on accumulating
wealth and the seemingly mindless acquisition of things. We each work
and have been able to do pretty well financially. We spend lots of time
with our son and daughter and have become concerned that many of their
friends, and several of our peers, seem to be caught up in the rush to
show how many new things they can own. New cars, clothes, furniture,
vacations - well, it is becoming overwhelming. As a couple, we are asking
if our own
integrity is under siege.
want to be like others, yet we feel increasingly
pressured to go to fashionable places that others
like and buy items that commercials promote as essential.
We are seeing in our children a gradual tendency
to take just about everything for granted.
we compromised our values? Have we lost our integrity?
We remember that
money is the root of all evil and we are feeling guilty. What should we do
re-establish integrity in our lives?
First of all, money is not the root of all evil; but the love of money is
the root of an awful lot of evil. A long time ago, a friend reminded
me that we can spend years working to own things that end up owning us.
His counsel was to be careful and avoid being controlled by the items
we have purchased.
is not defined by how much individuals have, but
how little they need.
you can be certain if you have compromised your values
or lost your integrity. However, you may find a definition
of integrity helpful in establishing a baseline in
establishing appropriate principles and behaviors
for the future.
is congruence between what you say and what you do,
as well as what you say about what you did. Parents
are responsible for setting the ground rules and
behaving appropriately. Parents make mistakes and
need to own up to their shortcomings immediately.
Children learn the real values of the family by observing
what their parents do even more than by listening
to what parents say.
is the keystone of leadership, a critical aspect
of parenting. The keystone of values holds the family
together at its most critical junction, where behaviors
are passed along to the next generation. Integrity
enables the family to achieve mission which sustains
civilization. Integrity is the strength, unity, clarity
and purpose that upholds and sustains all activities.
Integrity provides this stabilizing dimension by
compromising. Integrity recognizes risks and assumes responsibility. Parents
exude integrity and must be willing to push back against the superficial
destructive trends that threaten civility and graciousness.
Now is not the time to lose one's parental nerve. The next generation looks
to parental guidance to enable it to safely navigate the turbulent times
that are a natural part of moving toward adulthood.
might you do to re-establish integrity in your lives?
keystone that sustains an archway is similar to the
canopy of love and nurture that caring parents provide
a family. The work of the archways keystone is constant
and may go unnoticed until it disappear or collapses
if those keystone values and strengths are not passed
along, the family crumbles. Integrity does matter,
most especially with the family - the cornerstone
of civilization. Don't simply tell them how important
values are, show them - soon.
published in Jim
Bracher's Integrity Matters newspaper column on April
raises ethical questions"
I read with interest that the authorities have filed two murder charges against
Scott Peterson, to include the death of his unborn son. How on earth can
the authorities approve abortion, on the one hand, and charge Scott Peterson
with murder for the death of his unborn child? The death of an unborn child
is not the death of a person, if abortion is legal! If it is the death of
a person (a murder, i.e.), then abortion is murder. Without taking a stand
on abortion--a separate issue--where is the integrity in our legal system?
Dear Student of Legal Behavior
and juries are now responsible for the next steps
in the resolution of those issues related to the
death of Ms. Laci Peterson and what has been assumed
as the death of her unborn son. Your observations
are thought provoking. The legal system is charging
Mr. Scott Peterson (the husband of one victim, and
father of the other, unborn victim), with two counts
profile events that gather the attention of the media
can sometimes seem to be on a course (collision or
otherwise) that defies explanation. National news
stories have now captured the interest of millions
and millions of news fans. Your questions do emphasize
the seeming contradiction of causing death (abortion,
prior to the birthing process) and the ending of
a life of an already born and functioning human being.
Those who practice law and jurisprudence can distinguish
the differences. Did the murderer or murderers take
the life of one person or two? Obviously, this depends
upon the definition of when life begins?
asked about the integrity of the legal system and
you seem upset with actions taken so far. What we
have seen to date is the proposed administration
of justice. We know that police officers do not practice
law, they administer the law. The officers arrested
Mr. Peterson in the San Diego area and brought him
back to a Modesto jail cell. In the words of Brian
Melley of the Associated Press: "'He'll be charged
with capital murder, with an option of seeking the
death penalty because Peterson is being charged with
a double homicide,' said Stanislaus County District
Attorney Jim Brazelton."
are pinpointing the contradictions between when life
begins for those who choose legal abortions and when
life begins for those who are charged with murder
of a yet unborn infant. Integrity requires that one
have a consistent definition of when life begins.
There are some who suggest that human life begins
only when the unborn can exist outside of the mother's
womb. Others define life as early as conception.
reporting of the events so far might lead one to
conclude that this hideous set of circumstance will
be tried by the media; but, that is unlikely. Even
those who want to convict immediately and harshly
will come up against a system that does understand
due process and will steadfastly pursue justice – for
all parties that have been afflicted and affected
by these atrocious deaths.
integrity of the legal system is not yet in question.
When the case is resolved, each of us can then judge
the integrity of our judicial system. Because integrity
matters, we will watch this case carefully.
in Jim Bracher's Integrity
Matters newspaper column
on September 3, 2003
gifts require new study"
I am having a problem reconciling what is happening in certain parts of organized
religion, and the various scandals including the latest pedophilia mess.
Here is my dilemma: if I stop giving to my church out of concern that its
leaders are using the money irresponsibly and unethically in dealing with
these scandals, then what about worthwhile charitable activities helped by
my church donations? I am frustrated and concerned and feel this issue is
about integrity. What do you think?
You have raised an interesting and valuable concern. Integrity is at the
heart of the issue. It appears that current administrative costs in some
churches are high and that some of these religious institutions and charities
have engaged in practices that turn off many people, including you. Some
have used donations to make settlements to fight their legal conflicts
instead of using the funds for the named purposes of the institution.
Their decisions to spend financial resources for one purpose after raising
the funds for a very different purpose lack consistency and integrity.
Many loyal believers have felt betrayed.
tens of millions of dollars were earmarked in Massachusetts
to pay settlements related to lawsuits directed at
ordained priests who abused young people. It is unthinkable
that the caring and generous parishioners who donated
those millions of dollars intended for their sacrificial
giving to pay for legal problems created by such
destructive behaviors. If this were a business transaction,
it might be called "bait and switch" - the unsuspecting
buyer is shown one product, asked to pay for it,
only to be provided something very different, worth
a great deal less. Such an event in business would
be described as fraud, with legal and financial consequences.
It is common sense that charitable organizations
must operate with the same stringent operational
rules as the rest of business and society.
example to which you refer by your question, namely,
that of pedophilia, has been one of the most disturbing.
However, responsible parish councils, pastors and
their congregations are working through that known
set of problems. It seems probable that the involved
religious institutions and other social service organizations
will emerge wiser and with new and stronger self-regulating
processes. Usually appropriate solutions emerge after
a crisis with both religious institutions and secular
charities. It is also true that our society has a
network of socially-responsive and critical services
that are sustained by organized religion. These charities,
and many others, do a lot of good for people who
might have no other place to turn.
may, of course, simply move your money to another
church or charity. That is quick and direct and has
the virtue of removing you from any need to get involved
with those who have disappointed you. You need to
the greater good is served by cutting off the charities with known, visible
problems, and shift the money to charities with which you have less connection,
but whose reputations are, for now at least, unblemished.
and perhaps more prudent approach might be to get
involved directly with the institutions you support;
organizations engaged in work relevant to your interests.
Your involvement might improve their administrative
and professional performance. In this way you can
continue to support them so long as they are working
through their problems responsibly. The larger safety
net provided by your charitable institution is thereby
protected and even improved.
leaders of charities you support remain unresponsive
to the need for change, then your issue becomes very
clear, and you will very likely move your charitable
giving to more responsive providers. How wonderful
that people with your values are concerned and involved.
in Jim Bracher's Integrity
Matters newspaper column
on October 1, 2003
In your weekly newspaper column, you offer responses to integrity questions.
Where do get your answers? How do you know what is ethical? On what basis
do you select the values that support your position? How do your columns
reflect your philosophy? I read that you were a clergyman; does that mean
you have a Christian bias?
My answers and responses come out of the clarity and confidence that emerge
from the single most important human relationship possible: a marriage
partner. One way to describe how this connection to values and insight
works for me is to talk about a movie that means a great deal to my wife,
Jane, and me: A Beautiful Mind.
2002, former television child-star, Ron Howard, directed
the Academy Award-winning film A Beautiful Mind. Actor
Russell Crowe portrays the mathematical and economic
genius, the professor from Princeton University,
a recipient of the 1994 Nobel Prize, Dr. John Nash.
The story of his life was the basis for the film.
In addition to Russell Crowe, who played John Nash,
Jennifer Connelly played his loyal and dedicated
wife, Alicia. Whatever else the movie presented,
the power of unconditional love was the cradle for
the messages offered.
Nash received the shared Economics Nobel Prize in
1994 for his mathematical discoveries and contributions
to "the pioneering analysis of equilibria in
the theory of non-cooperative games", which
has impacted 20th Century business and economic activity.
Most important of all, John Nash remembered when
he won the Nobel Prize after decades of struggling
with schizophrenia, the most serious and debilitating
of the mental illnesses, that it was his wife's understanding
and support that provided him with a context, connection
Nash described himself as a person of circumstances
who has been fortunate enough to tell his story through
a newspaper article, book and movie. What he also
provided via this movie to the current generation
was insight related to the power of relationships
for healing, and how unconditional love can inspire
makes this story so moving centers in the words he
shared, at least in the film version of his life,
upon receiving the Nobel Prize at the awards ceremony
in Sweden, December 1994.
Nash, as portrayed by Russell Crowe, summarized his
values, insights and his efforts to build and then
rebuild his life with and through the integrity-centered
behaviors of his wife, Alicia, uttering these 101
I have always believed in numbers, in
the equations and logics that lead to reason. And,
after a lifetime of such pursuits, I ask: what truly
is logic? Who decides reason?
quest has taken me through the physical, the
metaphysical, the delusional and back. And I
have made the most important discovery of my
career; the most important discovery of my life.
is only in the mysterious equations of love that
any logic or reason can be found.
am only here tonight because of you. [referring
obviously to his wife, Alicia]
are the reason I am. You are all my reasons.
101 words, when recast through my own experience,
help me to form the basis for increasing the knowledge
and awareness essential for restoring trust in society,
rebuilding faith in institutions and guiding integrity-centered
you will be challenged to utilize this same process
for enhancing ways your thoughts and actions can
provide for you the answers and direction required
in these complex times. Here is my response to how
my life and work have unfolded. My words run parallel
to what Dr. Nash said when acknowledging the Nobel
Prize. His response served as a template:
have always believed in the potential of the
individual, in the capacity of human beings to
achieve and contribute. During decades of encouraging
integrity-centered actions, for people to be
the best they can be, I ask, what is integrity?
Who decides which values support appropriate
quest has taken me through theology, teaching,
pastoral care, preaching, leadership counseling
and now writing. And, I have made the most important
discovery of my career, the most important discovery
of my life.
is only in the mysterious equations of interpersonal
connection, mutual respect and unconditional
love that an integrity-centered life is possible.
Restoring trust and confidence in the leadership
of any society, regionally or globally, rests
upon legitimate interpersonal relationships.
credit given to me regarding my constructive
impact upon the lives of others was made possible
because of the unconditional love provided to
me by my wife, Jane, who is my best friend, role
model and mentor. Her integrity is the source
for any trust-restoring leadership counsel that
I am able to provide. Indeed, I am fortunate.
basis of integrity-centered leadership is connection,
context and value-clarity. Strong marriages exude
this connectedness. Family units understand it and
live it. Parents who look with pride, with feelings
of accomplishment, upon their child-rearing efforts
understand how these multiple dimensions of relationship
secure the present and prepare the next generation
for the future.
this movie has a message. Powerful as its story is
about a brilliant professor, it is even more about
the wife. Perhaps A Beautiful Mind might
be re-titled A
Magnificent Marriage of Partnership, Perseverance
and Unconditional Love. Truly, the husband
becomes more and is better because of the right wife.
Hopefully the wife says the same thing. Yet, who
among us is not better because of the best of those
whom we call friend and ally?
the most powerful summary of important relationships
can be presented in the following words about friendship.
This poem stands as a centering point for our marriage
in that it is a reminder that we are better because
of the love and acceptance of friends (marriage partners):
love you not only for what you are, but
for what I am when I am with you. I love you
not only for what you have made of yourself,
but for what you are making of me. I love you
for the part of me that you bring out.
love you for putting your hand into my
heaped-up heart, and passing over all the
foolish and frivolous and weak things which
you cannot help dimly seeing there, and for
drawing out into the light all the beautiful,
radiant belongings, that no one else had looked
quite far enough to find.
love you for ignoring the possibilities of
the fool and weakling in me, and for laying
firm hold on the possibilities of good in me. I
love you for closing your eyes to the discords
in me, and for adding to the music in me by
love you because you are helping me to
make of the lumber of my life not a tavern but
a Temple, and of the words of my every day
not a reproach but a song.
love you because you have done more
than any creed could have done to make me
good, and more than any fate could have done
to make me happy. You have done it just by
being yourself. Perhaps that is what being a
friend means after all.
depends upon substantive connections, and is built
upon integrity and holds together relationships while
guiding the proper execution of responsibilities.
From friendship come confidence, courage and commitment.
Upon these three characteristics one can build a
life of meaning and impact.
in Jim Bracher's Integrity
Matters newspaper column
on January 21, 2004
question not designed as privacy invasion"
Earlier today, I pulled into the car wash, rolled down my window and requested
their ten- dollar service. The efficient attendant, a young woman, was smiling,
and then came the bomb. She asked if I was qualified for the senior citizen's
discount. Not knowing how to respond, and being in my mid-fifties, I asked
what age one needed to be for the discount. When she said 65, I wondered
how beat up and tired that I looked. Should this question be asked? Is this
business operating with integrity when it allows employees to risk embarrassing
folks with age-sensitive questions and assumptions?
So, you look a little older than you had thought. Do you remember how old
that people who were even forty-five looked when you were quite young?
Was her question about your age intended to intrude upon your privacy
or be attentive to ways her company might help you to save a few dollars?
For the number of times this question about senior citizen discount qualification
steps on toes, there are probably ten times more instances when the customer
appreciates the concern and the thoughtfulness of the car wash ownership.
integrity issue is yet to be assessed. Since our
column speaks of eight integrity-centered attributes,
let's review this event and make note, with an underline,
of how behaviors can be surveyed against standards
of appropriate conduct. What really matters in this
situation is not so much the young person's question
about age, but rather your response. Did you accept
the discount, knowing you did not deserve it? The
integrity-centered response is the truth. You are
not 65 and ought not to accept the offer. If you
did, were you being honest? No.
ego aside, were you gracious in how you treated the
employee? She attempted to assist a person who she
believed deserved a little extra attention, financially.
She was attempting to be professional and productive.
Did you demonstrate respect and discipline with reference
to how you responded to this person? Did you thank
the person for trying to be helpful? Did you control
your own negative emotional reaction, recognizing
that your uncertainty and insecurity about your appearance
might not accurately reflect the motivations of either
the person asking the question or the organization
that believes the question about age ought to be
asked? Were you kind?
circumstances in which we find ourselves might not
do as much harm to us as can our responses to them.
It is not simply what happens; it is how we handle
things that reflect our character. As the older participant
in the encounter, and perhaps even the wiser and
more mature individual, were you able to exhibit
the right behavior? It is not appropriate to react
and shake this employee's confidence. She was doing
her job by carrying out her company's policies. She
behaved with integrity. Did you?
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity
Matters newspaper column on June 7, 2006
"Kleckner was his name, preparedness
"As a first semester college freshman, in 1963,
I was diagnosed with pneumonia. Dr. Kleckner,
Dean at Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, Illinois, acted
swiftly and made sure that my autumn semester was concluded
before Thanksgiving. He enabled me to take all
final exams before returning home to Missouri for the
holidays to regain my strength. He secured a
place for me, as a second semester freshman transfer
student at Whittier College, Whittier, California,
allowing me to continue my studies and retain my student
deferment. With healthy lungs, Dean Kleckner made sure
that I could return to Elmhurst while retaining all
Whittier College transfer credits.
"Soon to become President Kleckner, he continued
to coach me. Once, and only once, I stood before a
Homecoming crowd and spoke "off the cuff" on
behalf of the student government. The following
Monday morning, at 8:00 a.m., he gave me a stern lecture
about preparedness. It was not a two-way discussion.
Accepting any assignment is a moral commitment to be
prepared - no matter when and no matter where.
Proper prior planning prevents poor performance. Famous
retailer, J.C. Penney may have originated the phrase,
but Don Kleckner knew how to instill it.
"On November 17, 1973, at 3:00 a.m., California
time, then Chapman College President, Don Kleckner,
took another call from me. After listening to
my concerns, he suggested that fear and anxiety are
often effectively conquered with planning and preparation. After
thanking him, I stayed awake until I found a memorial
statement that described how I would like to be remembered."
When I die, I hope that those who knew me best
will say that, "Jim Bracher did not fear the
weather and did not trim his sails, but instead,
challenged the wind itself to improve its direction
and to cause it to blow more softly and more kindly
over the world and its people."
"A photograph of my teacher and mentor of 43
years graces our board room, a constant reminder to
my wife, Jane, and me, of Dr. Kleckner's wisdom,
wit and generosity. According to Don, attitude
determines altitude for those who are prepared."
Integrity and relationships lessons:
- Contact friends, especially mentors, when you think
of them. Be pro-active or risk regret.
- Make each encounter memorable by being supportive
- Listen more than talk; paying attention to the
feelings and needs of others.
- Share important lessons learned with others.
- Write down how you want to be remembered: epitaph/memorial
Measure your integrity by how often your actions fall
within the shadow of your memorial statement.