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Ethical Edge Letters on Integrity  

Click here for Russell Williams' bio


Tuesday, July 20, 2010
If you're leading, who is following?
Gravity is the most predictable force


“Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit."
— Aristotle

Gravity is the most predictable force of nature. Humans need only to jump straight up, ride a teeter-totter or throw a ball in the air to understand gravity’s exacting work. So, too, our tiny solar system functions with gravitational precision within a small galaxy, the Milky Way. What about the gravitational force in the vast universe? Physicists now know that black holes hold the ultimate answer to gravitation’s grip that controls the heavens.

While this universal primal force is constantly in motion, exercising its predictability everywhere, Aristotle’s axiom on moral excellence points us to a parallel universe of precise cause and effect. Aristotle is being as exact with the movement of moral excellence as Stephen Hawking might be with the law of gravity. He is saying moral excellence is the predictable result of habitual moral action. It is cause-and-effect moral play on the game field of relationships – individual to individual.

In his inspiring book, "The Spirit of Leadership," Robert J. Spitzer, former president of Gonzaga University, identifies five moral commitments that an individual can make to others at home, at work and in the community to practice the habitual opportunity for living with personal integrity which, for me, defines moral excellence. Spitzer states very simply and forthrightly: "I commit that I will …"

Look for contribution to you and to our common cause before I make comparisons.

Look for the good news in you even if I should see the bad news.

Connect with you as a whole person before looking at your skill set and utility function.

Look for the "win-win" before settling for the "win-lose."

Trust you until you give me ample reason to do otherwise and I will "cut you plenty of slack" because I realize that, like me, you are not perfect.

Mission Integrity Action

This week, I pursue habits of moral excellence as I commit to see the good in others. I explore Spitzer’s five commitments knowing they can become my personal habits that I experience with business professionals at work, as well as with family and friends.

Russell Williams,
founder/president
Passkeys Foundation/Ethical Edge
ethicaledge.org