Monthly Archives: January 2016

Integrity Series – Courage of Convictions

Is integrity showcased only through actions? The story below demonstrates how important it is to speak words that convey the same sentiment.

abe lincoln

Abe Lincoln made the great speech of his famous senatorial campaign at Springfield, Illinois. The convention before which he spoke consisted of a thousand delegates together with the crowd that had gathered with them.

His speech was carefully prepared. Every sentence was guarded and emphatic. It has since become famous as “The Divided House” speech.

Before entering the hall where it was to be delivered, he stepped into the office of his law- partner, Mr. Herndon, and, locking the door, so that their interview might be private, took his manuscript from his pocket, and read one of the opening sentences: “I believe this government cannot endure permanently, half slave and half free.”

Mr. Herndon remarked that the sentiment was true, but suggested that it might not be good policy to utter it at that time.

Mr. Lincoln replied with great firmness: “No matter about the policy. It is true, and the nation is entitled to it. The proposition has been true for six thousand years, and I will deliver it as it is written.”

Integrity Series – Emperor’s Seed

Being honest and upfront even in difficult situations might seem unachievable. However, the long term benefits of maintaining one’s integrity in the face of adversity will always outweigh the cons.

seed

Once there was an emperor in the Far East who was growing old and knew it was coming time to choose his successor. Instead of choosing one of his aides or one of his own children, he decided to do something different. He called all the young people in the kingdom and said, “It has come time for me to step down and to choose the next emperor. I have decided to choose one of you.” The emperor continued. “I am going to give each one of you a seed today. It is a very special seed. I want you to go home, plant the seed, water it and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from this one seed. I will then judge the plants that you bring to me, and the one I choose will be the next emperor of the kingdom!”

There was one boy named Ling who was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly told his mother the whole story. She helped him get a pot and some planting soil, and he planted the seed and watered it carefully. Every day he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other youths began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow. Ling kept going home and checking his seed, but nothing ever grew. Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing.

emperor

By now others were talking about their plants but Ling didn’t have a plant, and he felt like a failure. Six months went by, still nothing in Ling’s pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Ling didn’t say anything to his friends, however. He just kept waiting for his seed to grow.

A year finally went by and all the youths of the kingdom brought their plants to the emperor for inspection. Ling told his mother that he wasn’t going to take an empty pot. But she encouraged him to go, and to take his pot, and to be honest about what happened. Ling felt sick to his stomach, but he knew his mother was right. He took his empty pot to the palace.

When Ling arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by all the other youths. They were beautiful, in all shapes and sizes. Ling put his empty pot on the floor and many of the other kinds laughed at him. A few felt sorry for him and just said, “Hey nice try.” When the emperor arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted the young people. Ling just tried to hide in the back. “My, what great plants, trees and flowers you have grown,” said the emperor. “Today, one of you will be appointed the next emperor!”

All of a sudden, the emperor spotted Ling at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered his guards to bring him to the front. Ling was terrified. “The emperor knows I’m a failure! Maybe he will have me killed!”

When Ling got to the front, the Emperor asked his name. “My name is Ling,” he replied. All the kids were laughing and making fun of him. The emperor asked everyone to quiet down. He looked at Ling, and then announced to the crowd, “Behold your new emperor! His name is Ling!” Ling couldn’t believe it. Ling couldn’t even grow his seed. How could he be the new emperor?

Then the emperor said, “One year ago today, I gave everyone here a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds which would not grow. All of you, except Ling, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Ling was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new emperor!”

Integrity Series – What You Are Is As Important As What You Do

What is the path you chose when faced with a question of ethics? Do you walk the path that leads to integrity of thought and action?

golf

It was a sunny Saturday afternoon in Oklahoma City. My friend and proud father Bobby Lewis was taking his two little boys to play miniature golf. He walked up to the fellow at the ticket counter and said, “How much is it to get in?”

The young man replied, “$3.00 for you and $3.00 for any kid who is older than six. We let them in free if they are six or younger. How old are they?”Bobby replied, “The lawyer’s three and the doctor is seven, so I guess I owe you $6.00.”

The man at the ticket counter said, “Hey, Mister, did you just win the lottery or something? You could have saved yourself three bucks. You could have told me that the older one was six; I wouldn’t have known the difference.” Bobby replied, “Yes, that may be true, but the kids would have known the difference.”

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.” In challenging times when ethics are more important than ever before, make sure you set a good example for everyone you work and live with.

Series on Integrity – Winners and Winners

Everyone likes to win however, should we conveniently overlook the fine balance of right and wrong when caught in a tricky situation?


As a high school coach, I did all I could to help my boys win their games. I rooted as hard for victory as they did.


A dramatic incident, however, following a game in which I officiated as a referee, changed my perspective on victories and defeats. I was refereeing a league imageschampionship basketball game in New Rochelle, New York, between New Rochelle and Yonkers High.


New Rochelle was coached by Dan O’Brien, Yonkers by Les Beck. The gym was crowded to capacity, and the volume of noise made it impossible to hear. The game was well played and closely contested. Yonkers was leading by one point as I glanced at the clock and discovered there were but 30 seconds left to play.


Yonkers, in possession of the ball, passed off – shot – missed. New Rochelle recovered – pushed the ball up court – shot. The ball rolled tantalizingly around the rim and off. The fans shrieked.

New Rochelle, the home team, recovered the ball, and tapped it in for what looked like victory. The tumult was deafening. I glanced at the clock and saw that the game was over. I hadn’t heard the final buzzer because of the noise. I checked with the other official, but he could not help me.

Still seeking help in this bedlam, I approached the timekeeper, a young man of 17 or so. He said, “Mr. Covino, the buzzer went off as the ball rolled off the rim, before the final tap-in was made.”images


I was in the unenviable position of having to tell Coach O’Brien the sad news. “Dan,” I said, “time ran out before the final basket was tapped in. Yonkers won the game.”


His face clouded over. The young timekeeper came up. He said, “I’m sorry, Dad. The time ran out before the final basket.”


Suddenly, like the sun coming out from behind a cloud, Coach O’Brien’s face lit up. He said, “That’s okay, Joe. You did what you had to do. I’m proud of you.” Turning to me, he said, “Al, I want you to meet my son, Joe.”


The two of them then walked off the court together, the coach’s arm around his son’s shoulder.

Integrity as a core value across various facets of life: Chanakya and the Chinese traveler

Is integrity towards use of official resources always pursued? What about when no one is watching, are we equally conscientious then?

downloadOnce, a Chinese traveller came to meet Kautilya (Chanakya). It was dusk and darkness had just started to set in. When the traveller entered Chanakya’s room, he saw that Chanakya was busy writing some important papers under the lighting of an oil lamp. Chanakya smilingly welcomed his guest and asked him to sit. He then quickly completed the work that he was doing.

On completing his writing work, he extinguished the oil lamp under which he was writing and lit another lamp. The Chinese traveller was surprised to see this. And asked Chanakya, “Is this a custom in India, when a guest arrives at your house? I mean, extinguishing one lamp and lighting the other?” Chanakya replied, “No my dear friend. There is no such custom. Actually, when you entered, I was working. It was an official work, pertaining to my empire, my nation.

imagesThe oil filled in that lamp has been bought from the money from the National treasury. Now, I am talking to you. This is a personal and friendly conversation, not related to my nation; so I cannot use that lamp now, as it will lead to wastage of the money of the national treasury. Hence, I extinguished that lamp and lit this other lamp, since the oil in this lamp has been bought from my personal money.”

This small incident exemplifies the high moral standards understood and followed even in ancient times by thought leaders like Chanakya. An excellent example of integrity of thought and action followed in all aspects of life.