LESSONS FOR US ALL IN SEN­A­TOR MCCAIN’S APPROACH TO LIFE

Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - NEWS -

THE fol­low­ing pas­sage was re­cently by Forbes mag­a­zine after the death of Sen­a­tor John McCain, and this ar­ti­cle pays trib­ute to a man who, while a po­lit­i­cal fig­ure, shone above all else due to his char­ac­ter to leave a legacy of a truly noble hu­man be­ing.

Re­flec­tions of an in­ner di­men­sion high­light­ing qual­i­ties that tran­scend tra­di­tion­ally recog­nised skills of great lead­ers that usu­ally re­ceive ac­co­lades and praise.

Sen­a­tor McCain’s pass­ing last month was marked by many elo­quent eu­lo­gies in print and in cer­e­monies, chief among them were speeches by Pres­i­dents Barack Obama and Ge­orge W. Bush.

Most of the count­less spo­ken and writ­ten words were praises of the late sen­a­tor’s many virtues – com­mit­ment, pa­tri­o­tism, hon­our, can­dour, hero­ism, sac­ri­fice, courage – all re­lated to his char­ac­ter strengths.

The ar­ti­cle also her­alded one of his rare char­ac­ter flaws and how he dealt with it: the abil­ity to ad­mit a mis­take and to take steps to cor­rect it.

When I read this it brought to mind the he­roes of the past who are of­ten ref­er­enced as we look to his­tory for guid­ance in how to ap­ply the lessons learned to avoid a re­peat of mis­takes as we en­ter the early phase of the 21st cen­tury.

Equally, there are many mo­ments in our own lives when we are pres­sured to make de­ci­sions only later to re­alise that in the haste of mak­ing the de­ci­sion it has cost us our sense of judg­ment and pos­si­bly led to an er­ror with on­go­ing con­se­quences.

But if we take a leaf out of the late Sen­a­tor’s ex­em­plary approach to recog­nise a mis­take and fix it – it will il­lus­trate great ma­tu­rity, can­dour and courage.

Of­ten it is the pur­suit of suc­cess that trig­gers a hasty de­ci­sion, only later to re­alise that it was the wrong de­ci­sion, based on a mo­tive that was fu­elled by our ego or self­in­ter­est.

There is a mas­sive char­ac­ter deficit in to­day’s so­ci­ety – es­pe­cially ev­i­dent in the busi­ness world, with ma­jor cor­po­rates mak­ing the head­lines for un­ac­cept­able man­age­ment that is detri­men­tal to their val­ued cus­tomers.

Most re­cently the Royal Com­mis­sion into the banking and in­surance in­dus­try has brought to the sur­face prac­tices that are not for the greater good of the so­ci­ety.

Tin­ker­ing around the edges, or try­ing to retro­fit qual­i­ties of char­ac­ter won’t close the gap.

We need to re­design the ma­jor­ity of our busi­nesses from the ground up. The abuse of cor­po­rate power is abun­dantly clear to most of us, with the worst ex­am­ples that have been ex­posed have pur­sued profit at any cost.

We need prof­itable com­pa­nies, but profit must not come at the ex­pense of – “hu­man hap­pi­ness” and “se­cur­ing the peace and well­be­ing” of all people.

On the firm foun­da­tion of these as­pi­ra­tions, fos­ter­ing qual­i­ties of char­ac­ter, in all of our in­sti­tu­tions, from preschool right up to the board­room must be a pri­or­ity.

Whether in a fam­ily set­ting or em­ploy­ees in the of­fice, the foun­da­tions of in­tegrity em­anate from an en­vi­ron­ment where truth­ful­ness is en­cour­aged and re­warded.

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