Integrity Matters
June 29, 2005

'Integrity' book theft proves message needed

Question: (E-193)

Dear Jim:

Someone stole a copy of your book, "Integrity Matters," during business hours at our Coast Gallery in Pebble Beach. Our "honor system" works, most of the time. Sadly, integrity doesn't seem to matter to everyone! Is there a moral to this story?


Integrity matters, and there is a moral to the story. Gary and Emma Koeppel own Coast Gallery locations in Big Sur, Pebble Beach, Maui and Carmel and value our book, "Integrity Matters." They sell copies to their customers, helping to expand the integrity conversation. Because of their efforts, more individuals are learning that "integrity-centered leadership is the only reliable foundation for long-term success!" Now, we hear that a book thief has violated decency and stolen integrity. Say it ain't so!

In May 2004, we launched our book in bookstores and on Simultaneously, used copies of our brand-new book were advertised on the Internet. How could this be? Just about every publisher, we learned, sends out hundreds of copies of new books to newspapers, magazines and reviewers. Certain mailroom employees recognize the packages, remove the books, list them online and pocket profits.

So, what would cause an art gallery shopper surrounded by expensive items to snitch "Integrity Matters," a $24 book about constructive behaviors? Is this akin to hotel guests who steal Bibles provided, for free, by Gideon International? Did this petty thief need this particular book to develop a moral compass in an all-too-turbulent world? Did this small-time crook lack the cash and simply turn to stealing out of desperation? We will likely never know.

But let's get back to the concern raised by the Koeppels. Is there a moral to this story? Yes. The problem is thievery and the need to rebuild the architecture for renewal of integrity-centered leadership. In the meantime, we need to figure out who sanctions stealing. Is it a careless parent who bragged about cheating on taxes? What do children absorb about honesty from family members who sneak home logo towels and robes from hotels? What values are being communicated when parents speed down the highway and risk harm to self, family, friends and strangers simply because no law officer is nearby?

Regardless of where and how individuals learn values, this book thief provides an opportunity for a constructive response. The integrity message needs to reach more people, immediately. So, what organization should become the "Gideon Society" for integrity? It is time to expand the integrity conversation, even if "Integrity Matters," the book, must be provided to an entire generation, for free. The need is real and time is now. Who should be the sponsor? Readers, please tell us.

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