June 7, 2006
Kleckner was his name, preparedness
The following is a part of my remarks at a memorial
service for one of my early mentors, Donald C. Kleckner,
whom I first met in 1963 as a freshman at Elmhurst College
in Elmhurst, Illinois:
"Once, and only once, I stood before a homecoming crowd and spoke off the
cuff on behalf of the student government. The following Monday morning, at 8
a.m., he gave me a stern lecture about preparedness. It was not a two-way discussion.
Accepting any assignment is a moral commitment to be prepared - no matter when
and no matter where. Proper prior planning prevents poor performance."
Famous retailer, J.C. Penney may have originated the
phrase, but Don Kleckner knew how to instill it.
On Nov. 17, 1973, at 3 a.m. California time, then-Chapman
College President Don Kleckner took another call from
me. After listening to my concerns, he suggested that
fear and anxiety are often effectively conquered with
planning and preparation. After thanking him, I stayed
awake until I found a memorial statement that described
how I would like to be remembered:
'When I die, I hope that those who knew me best will say, "Jim Bracher
did not fear the weather and did not trim his sails, but instead, challenged
the wind itself to improve its direction and to cause it to blow more softly
and more kindly over the world and its people."
A photograph of my teacher and mentor of 43 years graces
our board room, a constant reminder to my wife, Jane,
and me, of Dr. Kleckner's wisdom, wit and generosity.
According to Don, "attitude determines altitude
for those who are prepared."
Integrity and relationship lessons I was reminded of
by his death:
- Contact friends, especially mentors, when you think
of them. Be proactive or risk regret.
- Make each encounter memorable by being supportive
- Listen more than talk; paying attention to the feelings
and needs of others.
- Share important lessons learned with others.
- Write down how you want to be remembered - an epitaph
or memorial statement.
Measure your integrity by how often your actions fall within
the shadow of your memorial statement.