In the process of navigating our economic landscape, we are perpetually encountering risks. These risks not only present themselves from the standpoint of the market and the economy but also on a much larger scale from a social, political, and personal perspective as well.
How do we learn to manage risks going forward? We are compelled to study and appreciate the lessons from the past.
To do just that, I strongly encourage people to read a recently published book which takes us back to the volatile days of the late 1960s. This literary masterpiece very personally details how a group of young African American students and the Jesuit mentor who recruited them to college took very real risks. What was the result of managing these great risks?
A foundation for long term and very real rewards. This fascinating book is Fraternity by Diane Brady.
I will admit I am slightly biased but enormously proud that Fraternity is largely set upon the campus of my Alma Mater, the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. Brady descriptively outlines how Fr. John Brooks, a Jesuit priest at Holy Cross, took very real risk in 1968 in the personal recruitment of young African American students to what was then a virtually all white campus. Recall that at this point in our nation’s history, we were experiencing significant racial turmoil culminating in the assassination of Martin Luther King.
Brooks took the not insignificant financial, administrative, and professional risks at this point in time because he knew that Holy Cross as an institution needed to embrace these young men and the African American community at large if it were to advance its mission and elevate its vision going forward.
What about the young men themselves? What possessed these men largely from the inner cities of New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Detroit to venture to a middle sized industrial city in central Massachusetts when most had opportunities to attend college elsewhere in more comfortable surroundings?
While not every African American student who ventured to Holy Cross at that point in time went on to graduate and achieve untold success, do you think it is mere coincidence that those profiled in Fraternity did accomplish remarkable achievements?
Who are these men? They include current Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, noted attorney Ted Wells, Pulitzer Prize winning author Ed Jones, legendary Wall Street financier Stan Grayson, and former NFL player and Massachusetts policy maven Eddie Jenkins. Not profiled but also worthy of mention are men of real character such as Art Martin, Gil Hardy, Walter Roy, and Joe Wilson. All of these men blazed the trail for future Crusaders such as Mark Cannon, Ron Lawson, Rod De Leaver, Torey Thomas, Daryl Brown, Obi Green, Emanuel Mendoza, Reggie Woods, Eddie Houghton, Devin Brown, Gary Acquah, and SO many more.
The more I read, the more I appreciated that Brooks and these then young men had a real sense of shared commitment. That bond did not mean that they always saw eye to eye on every issue. In fact, they tested and challenged each other repeatedly and took very real risks in the process. Why? Those challenges spurred real personal growth for the individuals and the institution.
As I read Fraternity, I also learned that whether they knew it or not at the time theshared sense of commitment held by this visionary Jesuit priest and this group of ambitious young African American students was ultimately a love affair. The power of this virtue known as love mitigated the risks these men took, but then also provided the foundation for remarkable success in their lives.
Somewhat uncannily, I am now rereading the longstanding #1 bestseller Tuesdays with Morrie with a group of young men. That book by Mitch Albom was embraced across America because it also taught us —albeit in hindsight—about the power of love.
Fraternity teaches us that in the face of very real risks, lives can be changed, dreams can be achieved, and visions can be realized when love is embraced and people give of themselves for a cause and a mission greater than personal self-interest. That love was abundant at Holy Cross in the late 1960s and still is today. As a graduate, I am most proud.
Given the challenges facing our country at this time and for the foreseeable future, I would hope that collectively we might stop, pause, and appreciate that love is the greatest risk mitigant known to mankind.
That virtue of love is the embodiment of our Sense on Cents virtues of truth, transparency, and integrity. If only those leading our political and financial institutions could appreciate and practice real love in the midst of pursuing profit or personal gain.
Love, including tough love laced with competitive spirit, is the standard and value upon which I believe any great business or practice should be built. Why? Love is the great equalizer and neutralizing force to the powers of greed and fear.
You don’t believe me? Read Fraternity by Diane Brady. The lessons and virtues highlighted within are clearly the stuff of a longstanding best seller.
I only wish I personally owned the movie rights.