Uber, Cosby…A Crisis of Character

“When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.” -Billy Graham

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When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost;
when character is lost, all is lost. Billy Graham

I just Googled “top corporate scandals” and about 2,300,000 Web results displayed in 0.46 seconds; in fact, Google has its own reported scandals of a personal and corporate nature. Substitute in words like sports and Hollywood and the numbers explode upward. Type “Uber scandal” or “Cosby scandal” and about 15,000,000 and 36,200,000 are retrieved. I would enter “political” into the search engine, but I do not wish to crash my laptop! As written and illustrated by study after study, scandals in the world, whether centered around sex, corruption, bribery, fraud, or other greed factors, have crucial negative impacts on lives young and old, as well as the global economy.

Yes, a cast of disgraced CEOs are forced to leave companies every year, often punished by personal ethical lapses in judgement. Perhaps a new trend of swift punishment for sports heroes gone bad is emerging. This category is especially troubling for many households as ESPN has a vastly larger audience than business television. Ikea’s sold horse-meatballs, Mark Hurd has love triangles, there is tragedy due to buildings with violated safety codes, espionage, battery against women and children. Wal-Mart said it spent $439 million in two years to investigate the possible payment of foreign bribes. The LOSS OF CHARACTER IS A HUGE RISK TO THE GLOBAL ECONOMY.

The world has a record 1.8 billion young people between the very impressionable ages of 10 and 24. A great deal of that population segment live in the developing world where character impactors revolve around even more serious issues like civil war, jihad, malnutrition, slavery, and rape.*

Main Street, Wall Street, Your Street…This is all to say that our children are exponentially exposed to the worst examples of character, and bad character is the most corruptive substance of our future growth and productivity.

Please put aside for a moment the over seven billion people in the world. What are the impacts of scandalous activity in your much smaller ecosystems? What is the economic and emotional impact of events taking place in your community, office, or in your home, at the kid’s school? Someone is watching…everyone is watching, reading, clicking. It is up to us, you and me, to lead by example.

Fours years ago, my little TarHeel lived a life’s dream shared by tens-of-thousands. Wearing his favorite #50, his Carolina blue eyes twinkled as he stood steps from his sports heroes, an opportunity to “broadcast” his love and admiration to the world. Today, the fast-paced digital world at his fingertips, he has officially passed into the key category of impressionable youth. Like drinking from a firehose, opportunities are plentiful for him to learn, live, and lead by example. Let’s show him the way!

Unfortunately, Uber and Cosby cannot just turn a switch or post “values” in the corporate foyer. I once read that people will change their behavior only if they see the new behavior as easy, rewarding and normal. That’s sad. A culture of character has patterns of accepted behavior, core beliefs and values that promote and reinforce what is flowing through the veins, handed down to the impressionable, and enriched through leadership. Character needs no political, religious, or cultural boundaries. Great News! I just Googled “good character” and about 924,000,000 results displayed in 0.32 seconds.

*See Newsweek’s, Are Children Better Off Today Than 25 Years Ago? Yes and No, New Report Says: http://bit.ly/1xWyc0L

**For fellow TarHeel diehards, I love Adam Lucas’s writing and he forewarns, by the time you finish reading his latest column, you might feel differently about Gerald Henderson’s character. http://bit.ly/1zGJ6a4

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