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Character Matters

July 27, 2015

Filed under: Leadership — Tags: , , , — Barry @ 11:15 AM




I guess most people know who said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”  For those who don’t, the answer is Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt, arguably one of America’s greatest presidents.

There have been a few in our history…Abe Lincoln comes to mind.

Teddy’s renowned quotation, succinctly says more about character than most famous sayings.

And watching Donald Trump lately, confirms why he will never succeed in becoming president…as a matter of fact I wonder how he ever succeeded at anything…without a little help from his friends.

Character matters.  From Presidents to paperhangers.

Positive psychologists know this.  Martin Seligman PhD, the dean of positive psychology has written extensively on the meaning of virtues and character strengths in developing the “good life.”

His work classifies 6 core virtues into 24 character strengths.  Working with strengths can be a key to a successful life as well as becoming a great leader at any level.

The 6 virtues are:

  1. Wisdom and Knowledge
  2. Courage
  3. Humanity
  4. Transcendence
  5. Temeperance
  6. Justice

When I look at “The Donald” I see a man who is way out of balance.  But then again, no one is perfect.

I don’t think he represents what Teddy meant by carrying a big stick.  It was a metaphor for “presence.”  Polls show that the American people are dissatisfied with our “presence” in the world —not that we should destroy everything in our path.  This isn’t the real estate business.

On the other hand, I think speaking softly says it all.  I hear wisdom, courage, humanity and justice in the quote, don’t you?

One of the reasons I consider myself a moderate is that I believe in the balance.  I learned this along time ago when I first went to the Pankey Institute.

These ideas are not new.  L.D. Pankey studied Aristotle.  The Greek spoke the same language of virtues that Seligman is bringing to life currently.

Sure I learned technical dentistry at the Pankey Institute, but I also learned the principles of being a good professional, which transferred to a “good life.”

The lesson for everyone (Presidents to Paperhangers) is that character matters.

We have problems in this country.  Many of the problems relate to a shift from a moral world to a materialistic world.  In the wake we lost character.

I am beginning to see a trend back to morality with books like David Brooks’ bestseller, The Road to Character.  

Essentially this post is about leadership.  We need leadership at every level.  From the White House to your practice to your house.

When I look back at my own life and practice I see it was the moral lessons that made all the difference.

When I go to vote I will be looking for character strengths and virtues…hopefully everyone else will as well….Goodbye Donald!




  1. Donald Trump may not make it all the way to POTUS, but he is ahead by almost 2:1 in the polls against the second-place candidate. Right now, people like what he is saying, and are ready for a change back to American values and the American way. Donald Trump is not perfect, of course- no one is. But he dated and mraried some fine looking women, his children are all successful and he has more balls and backbone than the present POTUS and administration, combined.
    trump has no political skeletons in his closet either. Trump, at least is a man, with a vision, and he loves this country. And I sure hope you are not implying that the present POTUS is more virtuous.

    Comment by Roger — July 27, 2015 @ 11:46 AM

  2. You know Roger—I was NOT implying that the current president is virtuous at all. I was hoping to make that clear. Some Americans are behind Trump right now because he is displaying those balls. I was comparing him to the more virtuous and tough Teddy Roosevelt and Lincoln. Trump is flexing his muscles—he’s a loose cannon who is taking advantage of the weaknesses we are seeing in Washington. He’s not a leader—hopefully he will be judged accordingly and go back into the world of business and entertainment…don’t get caught up in The Halo Effect.

    Comment by Barry — July 27, 2015 @ 11:53 AM

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