Russell’s Ramblings

Those who do not hear the music might think the dancer mad

When Character was King

ReaganOne of my all time favorite books is “When Character was King” written by Peggy Noonan.  Peggy was a speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan and she details some of the values which Reagan held dear.  Whether you agree or not with the “Gipper’s” political views,  few can dispute his sense of personal, business, and political ethics.  Unfortunately, not everybody demonstrates a high regard for ethics.  There are those who fudge just a bit on their resumes alleging to have the education, training, or experience they do not possess.  Others may try to trade off the success of another business, purporting to be something they are not. 

We have all probably had the experience of reading an ad in the paper for a product and service only to find out when we show up, they have just sold that last widget but they have something just as good for a little more.  Deceptive marketing, fraudulent claims, and embellished resumes are nothing new but they do carry a heavy price tag and sooner or later those lapses in ethical judgment come back to haunt those who practice them.

Last night, I was watching the Tennis Channel.  I’m simply amazed at all the cable channels now targeting certain sports markets.  There was a rematch of a Jimmy Connors – John McEnroe U.S. Open from 1984.  Both of them went at each other like warriors.  After watching the tournament and getting ready for bed, my mind raced back to another tournament –  perhaps forgotten by many of those who watched it – the quarter finals of the Rome Masters in 2005.

Andy Roddick was playing Fernando Verdasco.  Roddick was leading 5-3 in the second set and had a triple match point when the second serve of Verdasco appeared to go long.  The line judge ruled the ball out but Roddick said the ball was in after checking the mark left on the clay.  Verdasco was given an ace and then the Spaniard seemed to catch the momentum closing out the serve, then the set, and later the match.

Andy Roddick

Andy Roddick

As an avid football fan, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen players make spectacular catches, jumping up with excitement, only to show on the replay the ball had bounced on the ground first.  Roddick demonstrated a level of sportsmanship that is sorely missing in athletics.  His gesture was something we could all learn from in a business world lacking in honesty and integrity.  Quite frankly, it’s refreshing to see someone in the public eye demonstrate that type of behavior.  I’ve always been told a person’s character is revealed by how they act when they think no one is looking.  Too often, we do not take time to recognize the people who demonstrate ethical behavior.  Like Reagan, Roddick may have lost his match but he walked off the court a winner and served up an ace with fans around the world.

It was a day when we witnessed more than a tennis match.  It was a day when character was once again king.

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August 3, 2009 - Posted by | Leadership Lessons | , , , ,

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