Integrity Matters
September 8, 2004

Friend's parents provide graciousness example

Question: (E-135)

Dear Jim:

You write about integrity and the Eight Attributes. One attribute is graciousness. Where is graciousness learned? Are there examples? What difference does it make?


Graciousness, which can be defined as respect and discipline, is learned by constructive examples and positive role models. A friend and I were discussing where he learned the importance of graciousness, and he, with moist eyes, passed along this story from his growing-up years. With his permission, we present his story. It changed him touched me and maybe it will transform and teach those who read it now:

"My father and mother owned a small 'mom and pop' grocery store in the tough neighborhood, all Mexican and all poor, where my brothers and I grew up in south El Paso, Texas. My parents had inherited the store from my paternal grandparents, who had emigrated from Mexico in the early 1900s. On Sunday nights during the spring and summer months, my parents would show free movies to the neighborhood that surrounded (and patronized) their store."

"My father would use impromptu barriers to keep traffic from in front of the store. Our neighbors did not complain about the street closure because they were all in attendance at the movies, too. My parents owned a movie projector, and my father constructed a makeshift, portable screen that he propped up against the store's front wall. Dad would rent the films from a movie-rental business."

"On Sunday nights, everyone from throughout the neighborhood brought their own chairs and blankets. The children would also receive a free scoop of ice cream from our store (my brothers and I were very popular with our peers -- at least on Sunday nights)."

"Mom and Dad operated that small grocery store until they retired in the early 1980s. All that time, the store was never the subject of a theft or a robbery, even when my parents -- by then elderly -- would work at their store late into the evening."

"They were gracious with their customers, and their customers were gracious with them. In return, my parents continued my family's tradition, begun by my grandparents, of being good merchants, honest and gracious. My parents are proof that doing the right thing in business pays off."

So, what does this story mean? Doing the right thing, graciously, has both short- and long-term benefits.

Being kind, thoughtful, patient and helpful will, over the longer haul, build relationships, community, trust and hope. Demonstrating care and concern for all of those with whom we associate sustains the integrity of all institutions: marriage, family, friendships, community and society.

Home Page | About Us | Ask Bracher | Services | Resources | Contact Us

©Bracher Center for Integrity in Leadership. All Rights Reserved.
1400 Munras Avenue ~ Monterey, California 93940