No. 223



Someone once said that an expert is, One who can take something you already know and make it sound confusing. Regardless of the label, over the years I have found that one of the keys to success is to listen to people who have something to say. This truism came to light in a fresh way after reading a letter a friend sent me the other day. My friend is Mickey Cox, recently retired from Entergy Corporation but before his retirement he was head of the coal generating power plants in our state and more recently as a consultant with an Entergy subsidiary in the far east. He had an office in Hong Kong and a while back he handed me one of his business cards printed in Chinese. Of course, I couldnt read it.

Since his letter contained some thoughts and ideas about a topic that affect all of us, I decided to share parts of it with you. He began his letter by saying, Your articles in the Log Cabin cause me to pause and reflect on a lot of things, in particular how to succeed and serve others. For most of my career I have had the opportunity to hire and observe employees and their traits. At this point he then went on to share the results of a recent Dayton, Ohio survey conducted with 400 businessmen who were responsible for hiring and training new employees. The survey revealed that the greatest attribute sought was honesty, followed by willingness to cooperate, ability/willingness to follow directions, a positive attitude and punctuality.

Mickey believes, and I agree, that most parents and educators today have their priorities in the wrong order. He says, My generations parents focused more, I believe, on the character values desired by the employers than the values of higher math and science skills. Perhaps this became so vivid to me because of the continual stress from both of my parents on how to be a good citizen and to be responsible in talking and acting within my community. My father believed his father gave him a good name and he was determined that his sons would be able to pass it (name) on to our children.

Not that academic achievement and skills were not necessary, or unimportant but character traits defined a familys values which were first in importance with education second. I personally believe if we learn character values then the other skills we need to keep up and excel in will be a natural progression because of the desire that God has placed in each of our hearts. Honorable character traits must be taught to our children by word and deed, reinforced by positive feedback. A sought after employee then is one who has a balance of honorable character traits mixed in with academic achievements.

He then left me with this question, Did our generation with character values learned at home and school commit less crime and evil than todays generation? Our country needs employees with strong character values to meet the competitive countries in the world. In my travels to other countries I have observed that strong countries adhere to the values mentioned earlier and then proceed to excellence in education. He then closes with this question, Could any foreign nation surpass our nation in gross national product if employers had access to employees with a balanced skill of both?

Here is my comment in light of what my friend Mickey Cox has said in a very constructive way. Fellow parents and educators, its time to rethink our priorities. Ive been saying this for a long time but I believe with all my heart when we teach character values first and education second, things will change for the better in the United States Of America. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)