Integrity Matters Broadcasts
April 16, 2007
Several years ago, Hollywood produced a movie about an intellectually-challenged individual, Forrest Gump. The film took the world by a storm. A phrase used by the central character, portrayed by Tom Hanks, has reverberated in my mind for a long time: “stupid is as stupid does” - and, oh, how I wish that it didn’t apply to me quite so often.
Spilled coffee on a fresh shirt, scratching a brand new pair of shoes – cutting through the leather, pushing the send button prematurely on an unfinished email, uttering a thoughtless remark – and there you have it – the Don Imus firestorm.
If you are not aware, radio-television superstar, Don Imus, has now become the latest “poster boy” for Forrest Gump’s tagline: “Stupid is as stupid does.” His recent outburst using inappropriate language involving racial and sexual slurs was directed at the young women from the Rutgers University NCAA basketball championship team. NBC has removed him from their airwaves and CBS has suspended him. See below, my April 11 Integrity Matters newspaper column:
published in Jim Bracher's Integrity Matters newspaper column on April 11, 2007.
Radio and television personality, Don Imus, has crossed the line of professionalism and propriety. He used language describing female college athletes that was cruel and destructive. What should happen to him?
Don Imus hosts a three-hour talk-show – "Imus in the Morning" - that has a history of coarse language, allowing and even encouraging caustic commentary. Having listened and watched his program, periodically, because some times I am awake at 3:00 a.m., some of his guests are quite interesting, well-informed and talented. He and his side-kicks are lively story tellers, sometimes pushing the limits of tastefulness, often stepping across the line in terms of graciousness. Nonetheless, that is his prerogative and the choice of his listeners and viewers. To his credit, he helps children with cancer, supports health care for members of the military and supports the use of non-toxic cleaning supplies.
His employers will determine the seriousness of his latest blunder. The racially-charged language he used is inappropriate and he will suffer the consequences.
However, the bigger issue is the callous and vicious language that permeates the airwaves in music, interview-talk shows that feature yelling and screaming; sometimes deteriorating into personal attacks. Jerry Springer, Rosie O’Donnell, Donald Trump and Bill O’Reilly (most recently becoming red-faced and verbally aggressive with Geraldo Rivera) and other screamers and yellers – have set a tone that the masses buy and encourage. Some “rap” lyrics – encourage behaviors that are so far outside the limits of decency and social interactions that name-calling would seem tame. There was a time when the word “gross” meant that the topic and the way a subject was being discussed was to be stopped, out of respect for the audience. Today, extreme seems to many to be the admirable direction.
The “old-fashioned” word graciousness seems to have gotten lost. Too many exchanges between individuals lack respect and discipline. Such insensitivity can be observed in the rudeness of disrespectful reporters interviewing victims after a crisis including automobile accidents, fire or even a death. Gory details are theirs to report to a public that often appears numb to the pain of others.
Comedy is the current defense some are using to defend rude and abusive language. Don Imus has already attempted to “protect” his operating style by saying his is a comedy show. But, this argument is unlikely to stand up. He regularly interviews serious people about important topics. Sarcasm and zingers hurt more than they help. The time has come to “think before we speak” and strive to helpful and not hurtful in what we say and how we treat one another. Integrity-centered behavior replaces personal insults and zingers with tasteful discussions, graciously conducted.
What is the solution?
Should social intercourse exclude humor? No. However, it is time to cease attacking people – verbally or otherwise! Sarcasm and the use of zingers need to stop, including references to race, culture, sex, age, physical attributes, mental limitations and occupational choices.
Personal preferences, regarding almost anything, short of violating laws or constructive cultural principles, are acceptable in a free society. Disagreements are common, often valuable, and can serve as a creative process, generating ideas, some of which morph into product improvements and process refinements. However, the Imus “hubbub” clarifies that it is time to:
- Listen empathetically
- Think caringly and carefully
- Plan thoroughly
- Implement compassionately
- Monitor frequently
A Perspective on the 21st Century
Recently, a 45-year old business leader reminded me that integrity is no longer an option in the digital age. The Internet makes all we say – permanent – and accessible to friend and foe. Honesty is not the best policy, it is the only policy.
As we repeat on the Bracher Center website, presenting our MOTTO:
Intensity, sensitivity and follow-through
Productivity is measured in accomplishment and impact. Graphs measure productivity. High morale and constructive relationships emerge when what people say is reflected in how they treat others.
"Integrity is one of several paths; it distinguishes itself from the others because it is the right path and the only one upon which you will never get lost." -- M.H. McKee
Our book, Integrity Matters emphasizes that right behavior is not a convenience; it is the formative construct for our brave new world. http://www.brachercenter.com/integritymatters.html#book
This same business person reminded me that secrets, at least for the most part, are a relic left over from the analog age. Today, who we are and what we do is “out there” for anyone to see (and hear). So, why not simply do the right things, in the right way, the first time?
The Nike shoe company slogan very nearly captured the appropriate 21st Century mantra: Just Do It. All that is needed to complete the digital reality: Just Do It - Right – with Integrity.
May 19, 2007 – Jim Bracher speaks about Integrity Centered Leadership at - Career & Leadership Summit!
Saturday, May 19, 2007 / 8:00AM - 2:00PM
- Three Dynamic Leadership Speakers
- Discover how to apply Confident Leadership
- Meet-n-Greet with Hiring Companies
- Unlimited Networking Opportunities
- Nobody Leaves Empty Handed
- It's FREE & Includes Continental Breakfast!
Community Presbyterian Church
222 West El Pintado Road
Danville, California 94526
If you, or someone you know, might benefit, then make sure to register – it’s free!
In closing, one more question, are you a potential Bracher Center client?
- Is your enterprise anticipating growth and organizational transition?
- Does your culture value people and superior leadership?
- Will you participate, directly, in improving team dynamics?
- If you answered "yes" to these questions, then let's talk.