We thought Professor Constantine's May 18, 1997 commencement address to the
graduates of Stonehill College was a wonderful distillation of the philosophy of this very simple but impassioned
man. Although we have reduced it to The Seven Rules, he sounds pretty good in his own words. So here is the
part of his address in which he articulates his philosophy on how to lead a just life:
First, you must always conduct yourselves and your work in an ethical fashion. Some define integrity as doing the right thing even when no one is looking. In order to take an inventory, you should ask yourself at the end of your work day if you would be proud to have someone sitting beside you for eight hours, hearing everything you discuss, and privy to all your decision making. Did you conduct yourself in a professional manner? Did you use fairness as a guide for your actions? Did you put in a full day of work? Have you treated everyone equally?
Second, you must always improve. Use your mind. Be curious. Get more education, even if you are older. The world is changing rapidly and you must change with it. Expand your horizons and challenge your boundaries.
Third, you must always put yourself in the place of those you are serving. Too many people in Washington forget who pays their salary. They become comfortable behind a desk. They never see the victim of a crime, or the small businessman they regulate face to face. They become powerful and smug.
Fourth, you must make decisions. Frequently, it will be easier to delay decisions, or not to deal with an issue entirely, particularly if the decision is difficult to make. It is better to make a bad decision, which can be undone, than to abrogate your responsibilities. However, you must be prepared to take responsibility for your decisions, especially in times of crisis, and to articulate what went into the decision making process. If you were wrong, apologize and move on.
Fifth, stand up for what you believe. One of the most difficult situations you will face will be having to take a position which is different from the position of your peers, or even your boss. But you must give honest assessments, and your best judgment even if it is uncomfortable. You will sleep better at night.
Sixth, never lose perspective. Remember who you are and where you came from. Don't pretend to be something you are not. You may be surrounded by power and possessions at different stages in your career, but these are illusory. What matters are family, friends and your own value system. The excitement and lure of being in the inner circle -- however that is defined -- pale in comparison to the satisfaction you will get as you take a walk with your children or see your grandchildren light up on Christmas morning.
Seven, be optimistic and realistic at the same time. That is possible, although it may sound too difficult. There are things we can change and things we cannot. But we should set our sights high, and never get so discouraged that we cannot continue. Change comes slowly, sometimes one day at a time. But we can achieve great things.
These are the only pieces of advice I will give you today. They are simple, but I believe these principles have gotten me through the difficulties faced throughout my lifetime.
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