Integrity Matters Broadcasts
March 5, 2004
Attribute #3 - OPENNESS: operational
Is appropriate information about your organization (and your society) readily
*from Bracher Center’s Eight Attributes for
Building an Integrity-Centered Company
Earlier this week, a friend forwarded comments that have
been incorrectly attributed to the world’s richest
person, Mr. William Gates III. In fact, this youth-centered
counsel was written by Charles J. Sykes, author of the
book Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel
Good About Themselves But Can't Read, Write, Or Add. Although
Mr. Sykes never uses the word Openness or even describes
transparency, he is very clear about what young people
need to know to function, contribute and possibly prosper
in today’s world. His candidness and insights emerge
from one who understands the real world and is willing
to offer counsel based upon experience and not simply theory.
Much of his advice seems to hit home for multiple generations.
He talks about how feel-good, politically-correct teachings
created a generation of younger people with little concept
of reality and how these inaccurate perceptions can set
them up for disappointment and even failure in the real
world. Here are Sykes’ fourteen points:
Rule O1: Life is not fair. Get used to it. The
average teen-ager uses the phrase "It's not fair" 8.6
times a day. You got it from your parents, who said it
so often you decided they must be the most idealistic
generation ever. When they started hearing it from their
own kids, they realized Rule No. 1.
Rule 02: The real world won't care as much about
your self-esteem as much as your school does. It'll expect
you to accomplish something before you feel good about
yourself. This may come as a shock. Usually, when inflated
self-esteem meets reality, kids complain that it's not
fair. (See Rule 01)
Rule 03: Sorry, you won't make $40,000 a year
right out of high school. And you won't be a vice president
or have a car phone either. You may even have to wear
a uniform that doesn't have a (designer) label.
Rule 04: If you think your teacher is tough, wait
'til you get a boss. Most bosses don't have tenure, so
they tend to be a bit edgier. When you screw up, bosses
are not going to ask you how you feel about it.
Rule 05: Flipping burgers is not beneath your
dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger
flipping. They called it opportunity. They weren't embarrassed
making minimum wage either. However, they would have
been embarrassed to sit around talking endlessly (about
the latest fads and personalities) and not working all
Rule 06: It's not your parents' fault. If you
screw up, you are responsible. This is the flip side
of "It's my life," and "You're not the
boss of me," and other eloquent proclamations of
your generation. When you turn 18, it's on your dime.
Don't whine about it, or you'll sound like the very generation
from which you want your independence.
Rule 07: Before you were born your parents weren't
as boring as they are now. They got that way paying your
bills; cleaning up your room and listening to you tell
them how idealistic you are. And by the way, before you
save the rain forest from the blood-sucking parasites
of your parents' generation, try delousing the closet
in your bedroom.
Rule 08: Your school may have done away with winners
and losers. Life hasn't. In some schools, they'll give
you as many times as you want to get the right answer.
Failing grades have been abolished and class valedictorians
scrapped, lest anyone's feelings be hurt. Effort is as
important as results. This, of course, bears not the
slightest resemblance to anything in real life. (See:
Rule 01, Rule 02 and Rule 04.)
Rule 09: Life is not divided into semesters, and
you don't get summers off. Not even (Spring or Winter)
breaks. They expect you to show up every day. For eight
hours. And you don't get a new life every 10 weeks. It
just goes on and on. While we're at it, very few jobs
are interested in fostering your self-expression or helping
you find yourself. Fewer still lead to self-realization.
(See Rule 01 and Rule 02.)
Rule 10: Television is not real life. Your life
is not a sitcom. Your problems will not all be solved
in 30 minutes, minus time for commercials. In real life,
people actually have to leave the coffee shop to go to
jobs. Your friends will not be as perky or pliable (as
some of the cute and attractive "airheads" who
have become celebrities).
Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. You may end up working
for them. We all could.
Rule 12: Smoking does not make you look cool.
It makes you look moronic. Next time you're out cruising,
watch an 11-year-old with a butt in his mouth. That's
what you look like to anyone over 20. Ditto for "expressing
yourself" with purple hair and/or pierced body parts.
Rule 13: You are not immortal. (See: Rule 12.)
If you are under the impression that living fast, dying
young and leaving a beautiful corpse is romantic, you
obviously haven't seen one of your peers at room temperature
Rule 14: Enjoy this while you can. Sure parents
are a pain, school's a bother, and life is depressing.
But someday you'll realize how wonderful it was to be
a young person. Maybe you should start now. If you choose
to thank me, please know that you're welcome.
Addressing Openness, which means operational transparency,
requires serious thinking and even more serious actions.
In this month’s BROADCAST, our focus is in
First, Openness, transparency, touches on education,
as was presented by the 14 comments presented above in
bold type. Students need to have confidence that their
teachers are preparing them for the real world-whether
it be for additional academic pursuits, a job in business
or a career in the military. Young people need to know,
have trust in those who are their guides, that what they
are being taught and modeled, is based upon a success formula
that can be followed. Sykes pulls no punches and neither
should those who teach - formally or through association
with youth, as parents, coaches, adult friends, family
members or leaders and heroes to whom young people look
for guidance, assurance and direction.
We owe those who depend upon us to tell them what we know
as well as what we do not know. Our transparency can
assist others as they learn to distinguish between well-meaning
opinions and substantive knowledge, usually built upon
experience. There is no substitute for the truth. Our responsibility
is to prepare the next generation (which often means continuing
to work on ourselves) so that we are more productive and
Second, Openness challenges those who provide our
news to keep a watchful eye on what it is that they present.
The members of the media are accountable for providing
us with "real" news, the essential information
you and I need to keep our freedoms. When those who bring
us the news are forthright in telling us what we need to
know, versus simply reporting what they hope we might want
to know, then they become excellent stewards of the essential
information that will keep us free. CLICK
read our Integrity Matters column entitled, "Like
it or not, ‘real’ news matters most" published
on March 3, 2004 and learn about the importance
of real news and democracy, and how the stewards
of information (the media) can strengthen their role and
their impact by demanding integrity in all aspects related
to the delivery of freedom-strengthening information.
Education, information and integrity are keys to our future
not simply for younger people, but for every citizen. As
another political season unfolds, at least in the United
States, it is important to seek knowledge, truth and wisdom.
Recently, a university student sent the following question
about Openness and enabled us to think, even more deeply,
about the nature of operational transparency. The straight
truth builds trust and offers a dependable pathway upon
which to chart a constructive future. Here is the question
Question: (E-099) from our Resources page.
"OPENNESS: operational transparency"
Why do you feel that openness is so important in an integrity-centered
Openness in organizations encourages two-way communication. Leaders listen
as well as talk. Sales professionals, managers, front-line employees and
customers all know that the way relationships are built in a "give-and-take" culture
builds trust. As a consequence, the politics of "manipulation" is
replaced with a process of direct and immediate feedback - confirming the
importance of helping one another, making a legitimate profit and sharing
credit for success while energetically owning mistakes. Integrity-centered
organizations - whether creating cash for profits or simply enhancing the
impact of a not-for-profit endeavor - accept the importance of providing
stakeholders with necessary and appropriate information.
Privately-held institutions, those not having outside
investors, may manage their finances and their operations
more discretely; however, their values and culture will
always be visible. And, if they have been in business for
a generation or more, their reputation will speak volumes
about who they are and how they operate.
Many years ago, while consulting with a well-known entrepreneur,
he offered the following advice regarding how to lead and
manage. His words were: "Never do or say anything
that you would not want your parents to know about." This
may not be profound, but it could have modified the behaviors
of many who find themselves and their companies on trial
for illegal and inappropriate actions.
Openness does not mean foolish and irresponsible "giving
away" of trade secrets or profitable business relationships.
Nor does openness suggest that "skilled executives" are
masters of secretive manipulations, always playing their
hands "close to their vests." Integrity-centered
organizations know that talented individuals require trust
and deserve to understand the larger picture in order to
leverage their talents in the best ways possible. Such
forthrightness and transparency are risky, but are not
nearly as costly as not enabling those who are central
to the enterprise to bring the best of their skills and
abilities to bear on the projects that lie in front of
them. Since human beings are not mushrooms, very few would
seem to enjoy being left in the dark and simply having
manure tossed on them until they could be harvested and
consumed. Openness allows the sunlight to shine and bring
life to the enterprise. Yes, openness is important.
INTEGRITY MATTERS, by
Bracher and Halloran, hits bookstore shelves on May 3.