Archive for the ‘Incidents and Profiles of Integrity’ Category


Congressman Bush Exhibits Integrity at Memorial High School

July 17th, 2012
Jim Thomas

George H.W. Bush, the Forty-First President, was blessed with multiple advantages. Heir of a patrician Connecticut family of wealth, power, and prestige, he was endowed with an attractive persona, high intelligence, an Ivy League education, and a first-class temperament.

In 1966 he won his first election. Following defeat in the 1964 U.S.Senate race, he made a successful bid for Representative from the Seventh Congressional District of Texas. He served two terms in the Ninetieth and Ninety-First Congresses (1967-1971). During his very first term he confronted a supreme test of conscience.

Along with a host of critics, Bush had his admirers.  For them he was loyal to a fault, decent, modest, amiable, and very flexible—when flexibility was called for.—and deeply patriotic.  When the crisis arose on public housing, Bush demonstrated another attribute: He proved capable of extraordinary political integrity.


Golfer David Toms Exercises Monumental Integrity and Preserves His Self- Respect

October 11th, 2011
Jim Thomas


 Performance with unbending Integrity has more than one legitimate motivation. One, however, outranks all others—a determination to maintain one’s self-respect. Writing in the New Republic, Brad Blandshard observed that self-respect “…is the most powerful of motives for it is what no one can afford to lose; we try to be what we really admire because if we do not we despise ourselves.”

 Toms, a consummate professional on the PGA tour affirmed Blandshard’s tenet at the 2005 British Open, one of the game’s most prestigious events. That year it was played at the renowned Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews in Scotland. That year Toms held one of the tour’s hottest hands. He was a leading contender to win the Open. That is until an unwanted occurrence came to light.

 On the morning of the Second Round, Toms came forward and made a startling revelation. He informed tournament officials, and later the press, that he might or might not have committed an error on the famous Road Hole. If he did, he should have taken a penalty stroke. Toms reported that once on the green, he missed a medium-length putt, then strode to the pin and tapped it in. He could not say for sure, but the ball may have wobbled in the wind. Placing a club on a moving ball called for a one-stroke penalty. No player or official at the scene caught it. He had no one to ask

 Toms disqualified himself from a major championship, in which he had chance of winning, with a lot of money on the line. The officials instructed Toms the call was up to him, since they could not verify one way or the other. He, himself, never doubted his disqualification. In his book, How, Dov Seidman describes his telephone interview with Toms as he made his way back home home to Louisiana from Scotland.

  Among other things said Toms, “Whether there was a breach of the rules or not, there was a doubt. I did not want to live with it; my conscience is clear because I felt like I did the right thing.  Sportsmanship in golf is on a different level. Whether I had won, or even made the cut, it wouldn’t have been fair to the rest of the field, and it certainly wouldn’t have been fair to me because I would have had to live with it forever.”

 Toms drives home a basic tenet of Integrity: it require individuals, professionals of every stripe, business executives, corporate managers, and organizations of all kinds to do the right thing at the right time for the right reasons—even when there is no absolute demand to do so. In this fashion, the priceless capital of trust, confidence, purpose, credibility, and reputation is established and maintained.

 To assist in management of this kind of capital, Alliance for Integrity, LLC offers free of charge and costs two working tools: An Integrity Checklist and An Integrity Credo. Both are easily adjusted to your particular circumstances. Contact


Why Keep Commitments? Consider an Episode From the UPS Delivery Man.

October 3rd, 2011
Jim Thomas

Because keeping promises, delivering as we promise, builds reputation capital, trustworthiness, respect, and purpose. In today’s world of the internet and e-commerce instantaneous transparency, these intangibles are of greater importance than ever.

 If you keep promises 99 times out of a hundred and the competitor keeps his only 8 of 10 times, you gain a critical advantage in the market place, irrespective of your service or your product line. Bill Rosenberg, founder of Dunk’n Doughnuts, once defined Integrity as delivering as promised, when promised, in the manner promised.

 Dov Seidman cites an excellent example of fulfilling delivery commitments in his book, How, which bears the subtitle: Why HOW We Do Anything Means Everything in Business and Life. For their wedding anniversary, Seidman ordered a bracelet for his wife from a New York jeweler, with shipment by UPS overnight. Anxious to have the gift on time, he met the delivery truck the next morning. The delivery guy, one Angel Zamora, reported the item was not on board. His shift ended with that stop, but Zamora did not stop. Instead he went the extra mile.

 An hour later he was still on the phone tracing the package. He finally located it where it had become entangled in  a warehouse problem. He arranged for a special run to make delivery . Pending delivery he furnished Seidman his cell phone number and that of his supervisor. Zamora assured his customer he would stay on top of it until delivery. The package was delivered later that afternoon.

 Zamora, as Seidman noted, exemplifies the UPS culture. UPS emphasizes fulfilling delivery commitments, and its delivery man, in this instance, aligned his conduct precisely in accord with his company’s standards. Somebody at UPS, in its earlier days, may have taken a page from Coach John Woodward, the Hall of Fame basketball coach, who instructed his players “It isn’t what you do, but how you do it.

 The cardinal virtue of integrity, the indispensable element, is about HOW you do it.

  Professional speaker, Jim Thomas, and Alliance for Integrity, LLC offer free upon request An Integrity Checklist and An Integrity Credo, for professionals,corporations,firms, and organizations. Contact






See How Transparency and E-Commerce Render Integrity of Greater Value Than Ever

September 27th, 2011
Jim Thomas

The World Wide Web a/k/a the Internet has raised transparency, even accountability, to unbelievable levels. Between 2004 and 2005, the research shows buyers online often visited 10 or more sites before making a purchase.

 Access to Information is easy. It is comparable to an ever-rolling stream that seeps into all cracks, crevices, branches, and estuaries. Sometimes it overflows banks and dams. Dov Siedman, in his book, How, gives an example of what can happen these days when Integrity goes out the window and there is something to hide. The results can be devastating.

 Sideman’s  case in point concerns one David Edmondson CEO of RadioShack. When he joined the company in 1994, the executive fabricated lines on his resume claiming degrees in theology and psychology from Pacific Coast Baptist College in California. In 2006, after just eight months at the top of his profession, he was found out. A curious reporter from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tracked it down and discovered the discrepancies. The head of the company was forced to resign, his business career in shambles.

 What prompted the reporter to take a second look? Her name was Heather Lindy, and she learned of an interesting circumstance. A top executive who was said to have started two churches was scheduled to go to court  on his third drunk driving charge.

 The invaluable, timely, timeless cardinal virtue of Integrity is grounded on the truth. The first question of Rotary International’s esteemed Four Way Test asks “Is it the Truth?” Falsehood, fabrication, the fudge, and the   lie are among its deadliest adversaries. Let all, who will, see their consequences, writ large in the case of RadioShack’s top executive. He is not alone, of course, there have been many others.

 In this age of transparency, with the tentacles of YouTube and other informational devices too numerous to name, reaching ever deeper, Integrity and its handmaiden—the truth—are of greater value, now more than ever.

 Professional speaker, Jim Thomas, and Alliance for Integrity, LLC offer free upon request An Integrity Checklist and An Integrity Credo, for suggested guidance at groups, firms, and organizations. Contact


An Insurance Agent Reaps the Integrity Advantage

September 8th, 2011
Jim Thomas

In their book, The Integrity Advantage, Adrian Gostick and Dana Telford relate an incident from the world of insurance. They describe a powerful example of integrity in action and the monetary and professional benefits that can flow from it. Here is what happened.


About My Book, Integrity:The Indispensable Element, 2010

July 26th, 2011
Jim Thomas

 The word “integrity” comes at us from every angle, context, setting, and venue. An Atlanta apartment complex is named “Integrity Heights.” A car dealer states on its outdoor signage, “We sell integrity.” A mortuary declares “We offer integrity when you need it the most.” A U.S. Senator describes a supreme court nominee as “a man of integrity” During the recession, in a letter to the Wall Street Journal, one citizen wrote “Wall street was where integrity went to die.” I could go on.

But ask for definitions of it and a dozen are forthcoming. In the abstract, the cardinal virtue of integrity is thick with meanings. Albeit, we know it when we see it. Furthermore, when have you heard, or read, of its rules of practice, motivations, impediments, its everlasting benefits and returns, or its legitimate rules of compromise?

 Integrity: The Indispensable Element sets forth the missing links. It bridges the gap between the virtue in thought and action. Part One pares it   to its fundamentals, drawing upon authorities of the ages. Part Two consists of profiles and incidents of integrity. Here are a collection, of men and women who demonstrate what it means to stand by convictions, often at great personal cost.

 The sketches are drawn from literature, business and commerce, the arts, politics, statecraft, and the Army. Two examples. Pablo Casals, the great cellist, though he and his family were in dire circumstances in occupied France during World War II, refused to play in Nazi Germany. This followed the German offer to satisfy all his material needs—food, coal, hospitable living accommodations. A Nobel prize-winning author said of Casals, “Here was a musician who came to the rescue of humanity’s honor.”

 The other example is taken from Army life, the unimpeachable character of General George C. Marshall. When he retired in 1947, following an extraordinary career of achievement, publishers in great numbers made offers for his memoirs. The Saturday Evening Post offered $1million, a huge sum at the time. He declined all proposals. He said, “The memoirs would require me to comment upon those who served under me and may cause pain on the part of some who did the best they could. Besides,” he added, “my country has fully compensated me for my services.”

 The book was published by Alliance for Integrity, LLC, Dublin, Georgia, 2010. Other information is on the website.

Dr.Jack Kevorkian,”Dr.Death,”Did the Physician Have Integrity?

July 13th, 2011
Jim Thomas

Both he and the facts are a matter of record. As a medical pathologist in Michigan, he willfully assisted at least 130 patients, dozens of whom—though not all—were terminally ill, end their lives. He was eventually convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 10 to 25 years. Beginning in 1999, he served eight years of the sentence before being paroled. He died June 3, 1911, age 83.

Whether you, the reader, believe in an ill or suffering person’s right to end his or her life is beside the point. What is relevant were Kevorkian’s beliefs on the highly controversial subject?

By the 1980s, he formulated and published them in a series of articles that appeared in the German journal Medicine and Law. He held it was his professional duty to end human suffering. It was his duty to assist those in hopeless agony, mental and physical; whose individual lives had lost all meaning. He denounced the idea that the humane way was to let people starve and thirst to death, claiming that was the position of the American Medical Association.

Declaring that it was his aim to find a solution to incurable agony, he flatly refused to deny or disclaim his written beliefs. Defying prosecutors, the courts, and public condemnation, he proceeded to assist those who sought his services. He said, “It is no crime to die.” His stand cost him eight years in prison.

Critics and supporters agree that Kevorkian’s stubborn advocacy for his position stimulated hospice care in the United States. It also brought out in the open public debate on a subject long considered taboo. In 1997 the State of Oregon enacted a law authorizing physicians to prescribe lethal medications for the terminally ill seeking to end their lives. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the statute constitutional.

Before answering the question posed, consider this: the cardinal virtue of integrity is the capacity to hold firmly to a set of principles, those that withstand scrutiny, that are beneficial to those directly concerned, even when it is difficult, inconvenient, or unprofitable to do so. Stated differently, integrity is the ability to stand by an idea.

So, how do you answer the question?

A German Jewish Chemist,Nitrogen,the 20th Century, and Integrity

June 22nd, 2011
Jim Thomas

Few know about him or his contribution to science and technology in the 20th century. Furthermore, his breakthrough discovery of a method for the fixation of nitrogen is one of the most underappreciated in history. At the very end of a fabulous career in chemical science, one marked by productivity and destruction, accolades and condemnation, he demonstrated the cardinal virtue of integrity in its purest form.

Here are the basics.

Franz Haber was a preeminent German Chemist of Jewish descent.
In 1909 he discovered a method for the fixation of nitrogen from the atmosphere.
A means for capturing nitrogen from the air had bedeviled scientists for a century.
The Haber-Process, as it is known, allowed industry to produce huge quantities of nitrogen products for both agriculture and industry.
Nitrogen is the most important nutrient for food crops.
Nitrogen products are essential raw materials in the manufacture of explosives and munitions.
Across the 20th century farmers produced ever greater harvests thanks in large part to the availability of nitrogen-based plant food.
More food means more people. Two fifths of the world population would not be here, but for the Haber- Process.
Haber conceived and directed Germany’s launch of gas warfare during World War I, a feat for which he was widely condemned.
He received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1919.

After the war, Haber became director of the prestigious Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin. On April 7, 1933, the Nazis overlooked Haber’s Jewish descent but demanded dismissal of his staff of Jewish scientists. In a display of iron-clad integrity, he flatly refused and resigned. His letter of resignation reads in part “…in a scientific post in choosing fellow workers, I take into account only professional qualifications and the character of the applicant…” Haber went into exile and died the following year in Boset Switzerland, age 66.

Want to Lose Your Self-Respect? Emulate Lt. keefer of the USS Caine

June 6th, 2011
Jim Thomas

Philosopher Nathaniel Brandon wrote that “…self respect is one asset no one can afford to lose.” And the writer, Kingsley Amis added, “Surrendered even for the best of reasons, it’s gone for certain and forever.”

An exemplary portrayal of self-respect abandoned is found in Herman Wouk’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Caine Mutiny. (Later, a superb movie starring Fred MacMurray as Keefer and Humphrey Bogart as Captain Queeg).

Lt. Keefer, third- in- command on the Caine, portrays a type that is alive and well. We find them in every sphere and sector of modern life—the individual who refuses to stand up and be counted when it counts.

In this World War II sea story, Captain Queeg takes command of an old destroyer-minesweeper operating in the Pacific Theater. After a series of bungled incidents aboard ship, Keefer concludes Queeg is either crazy or incompetent. He becomes outspoken among other officers and persuasive in sparking the revolt. Finally, in the crisis of a wild typhoon off the Philippines in December 1944, with the ship in mortal danger, and Queeg unable to function, executive officer Maryk relieves Queeg of command.

With Maryk at the helm, the Caine stabilizes and survives a typhoon. However, he is charged with mutiny and court martialed.

During court martial proceedings, Keefer is called as a witness for the prosecution. There he refuses to testify consistently with his numerous declarations of Queeg’s incompetency. In addition, he declines to support Maryk’s action that saved the ship. In essence, Keefer failed to affirm the very ideas he espoused so vigorously in private.

Maryk is acquitted. At the victory celebration, defense counsel charges Keefer with wanting to get Queeg all along “…while keeping your own skirts white and starchy.” Keefer can muster no response.

A colleague who sometimes disagreed with him said of Earl Warren, Governor of California and Chief Justice of the U.S Supreme Court, that “Warren stood up and was counted on every great issue of his age.”

The greatest single motivation for performance with integrity in the intent to maintain one’s self-respect. And, self-respect demands that we know what we stand for, that we are willing to stand for it, so others will know, too.

Henry Fonda Exemplifies Integrity on Set of Mister Roberts

May 19th, 2011
Jim Thomas

Henry Fonda, native of Nebraska, overcame early struggles in his chosen field to become one of America’s acclaimed actors. Who could ever forget his magnificent performances in The Ox Bow Incident, The Grapes of Wrath, The Caine Mutiny, and 12 Angry Men? In 1999, he was named the sixth Greatest Male Star of all time by the American Film Institute.

A mid-westerner and a man of great dignity and inner convictions, he epitomized for many Americans some of the best that is within us. This he demonstrated on the set of the award-winning classic play, Mister Roberts. The production ran for 1,157 performances on Broadway.
As the character, Lt. Doug Roberts, Fonda answered the call in each and every one. On one occasion, he had good reason not to.

During the play’s run, he and his family resided in Greenwich Connecticut. On Friday, April 14, 1950, his second wife, Frances Seymour Brokaw, committed suicide in the bathroom of their home. Hank, as he was known to family and close friends, after immediate arrangements, drove to New York that very night and gave his scheduled performance in Mister Roberts. Those in attendance said his performance was indistinguishable from all others in his three-year run.

His wife was gone. He could not bring her back. An audience awaited him. They expected him. As an actor there was an obligation to be met in the long-standing tradition that ‘the show must go on.’

Fonda gave more than a stage performance that night. He rendered an act of integrity. He held to an honorable standard of conduct even when it was difficult to do so. Integrity is the First Great Virtue, and Aristotle said virtue is concerned with what is harder.