This is the third in a series of newsletters that explore the following four lines:

Sufficiency leads to integrity.
Integrity leads to responsibility.
Responsibility leads to right relationship.
Right relationship leads to sufficiency.

(Click here for Part One: Sufficiency)

(Click here for Part Two: Integrity)


"Did You Bring The Ship Into Port?"

"Vada a bordo, cazzo!" has been translated several ways in 2012, some of which are too spicy for this newsletter. However you translate it, the Italian Coast Guard's order to Captain Francesco Schettino to get back on board the cruise ship Costa Concordia after it's collision with the island of Giglio, was a low point in recent maritime history.

Schettino was charged with multiple counts of manslaughter, abandoning his passengers, and failure to report the actual scope of the disaster to authorities. "Captain Coward," the name given him by the press, is apparently writing a book to clear up the "indecent falsehoods" surround the disaster that killed 32 people. Call me Karnak, but I'll bet the book's premise is that the disaster was not his fault.

The Captain's response brings to mind the words of Elbert Hubbard, most famous for his iconic book on personal responsibility A Message To Garcia, (ironically, Hubbard lost his own life when a German U-boat sank the Lusitania in 1915):

"When the Captain of a ship has put out from Singapore bound for Boston, we have only one question to ask. And this question does not refer to typhoons, hurricanes, pirates, shoals, shallows or icebergs. The one question we ask is, ‘Did you bring the ship into port?"


Chesley "Sully" Sullenburger, the captain of U.S. Airways Flight 1549 that made an emergency landing on New York's Hudson River, brought his ship into port. He did it the hard way. When a flock of birds disabled both engines on Airbus A320, Sullenberger safely landed the airplane on the river and remained on board until every passenger had exited. No lifeboats for him. "I had business to attend to," he was quoted as saying. "I had a job to do."

Mama mia!

Sullenberger never considered himself a hero for pulling off a "Miracle on the Hudson." It was simply his responsibility. Like Captain Schettino, Sully has a book. It's entitled: "Highest Duty: My Search For What Really Matters." You probably won't find it on the same bookstore shelf as "Why Are People Making Indecent Falsehoods?" or whatever Captain Schettino settles on as his alibi.

Integrity Funds Responsibility

However many holy words you read,
However many you speak,
What good will they do you
If you do not act upon them?
— The Dhammapada

This edition of the newsletter explores the linkage between integrity and personal responsibility. I contend that personal responsibility springs from, and is directed by, integrity. When we are clear and committed to morals, values and principles, our responsibilities come into high relief. Being clear about where you stand is the terrain of true leadership.

There are a lot of Captain Sullenbergers out there, doing their job from a sense of purpose and a commitment to doing the right thing regardless of who notices. Unfortunately, there are also an alarming number of Shettinos, leaders who put their own interests ahead of their responsibilities.

In the year-end article A Guide To Better Behavior in 2013, New York Time business columnist, Gretchen Morgenson, laments the lack of responsibility by some business leaders. Citing the case of Countrywide Financial's Angelo R. Mozilo, who blamed the collapse of his company and industry on circumstances, she wrote:

"Finally, wouldn't it be nice if executives acted like leaders and accepted responsibility for the actions of their companies and their employees...Mr. Mozillo's state of denial is pretty breathtaking. He did a fine job. That's his story, and he's sticking to it. Shareholders of Bank of America, who have shouldered billions of liabilities in its acquisition of Countrywide, might feel a bit differently."

We expect better from our leaders. We expect that they will be courageous in the face of difficulty, character-driven when facing temptation, and accountable when things go wrong.

Responsibility and Right Relationship

Here is some material that helps clarify the behaviors associated with personal responsibility. It's vital to know when we are being responsible — or at cause in our own lives — and when we have drifted into irresponsibility.

Only when we are able to take personal responsibility for actions and their impact can we come into right relationship with other people.

I am not sure of the source of the following material. It's attributed to several sources. No matter what its source, I have found it immensely helpful. Hope it helps you be a better Captain:

"What is accepting personal responsibility? Accepting personal responsibility includes:

  1. Acknowledging that you are solely responsible for the choices in your life.
  2. Accepting that you are responsible for what you choose to feel or think.
  3. Accepting that you choose the direction for your life.
  4. Accepting that you cannot blame others for the choices you have made.
  5. Tearing down the mask of defense or rationale for why others are responsible for who you are, what has happened to you and what you are bound to become.
  6. The rational belief that you are responsible for determining who your are, and how your choices affect your life.
  7. Pointing the finger of responsibility back to yourself and away from others when you are discussing the consequences of your actions.
  8. Realizing that you determine your feelings about any events or actions addressed to you, no matter how negative they seem.
  9. Recognizing that you are your best cheerleader; it is not reasonable or healthy for you to depend on others to make you feel good about yourself.
  10. Recognizing that as you enter adulthood and maturity, you determine how your self-esteem will develop.
  11. Not feeling sorry for the "bum deal" you have been handed but taking hold of your life and giving it direction and reason.
  12. Letting go of your sense of over responsibility for others.
  13. Protecting and nurturing your health and emotional well being.
  14. Taking preventive health oriented steps of structuring your life with time management, stress management, confronting fears and burnout prevention.
  15. Taking an honest inventory of your strengths, abilities, talents, virtues and positive points.
  16. Developing positive, self-affirming, self-talk scripts to enhance your personal development and growth.
  17. Letting go of blame and anger toward those in your past who did the best they could, given the limitations of their knowledge, background and awareness.
  18. Working out anger, hostility, pessimism and depression over past hurts, pains, abuse, mistreatment and misdirection."

Posted on January 1, 2013 .