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What Kind of Person?

The Nov. 12, 2012 issue of Fortune magazine asked 21 high-profile people from all walks of life for the one piece of wisdom that got them where they are today.  The responses were typical tripe . . . except from Scott Griffith, Chairman and CEO of Zipcar.  Griffith said he received this advice from his brother 15 years ago:

"You have to think about what kind of person you want to be when you’re done with this experience.  Think about coming out of this a different person than you go in.”

Mr. Griffith got this advice shortly after he was diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkins lymphoma.  But he came to see how this advice could be applied to any challenge – positive or negative – in his or anybody else’s life.

Think how different things would be if Pete Rose had asked this before betting that he could get away with gambling during his Major League Baseball career; or if Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens or others had asked it before the start of their steroid-stained MLB careers.

Which takes me to more recent fallen heroes:  Lance Armstrong, and Generals David Petraeus and John Allen. All three have done so much that is so good, most of which has unraveled with their ruined reputations.

If they had only asked, “What kind of person do I want to be when I’m done with this experience?”

They have come out of their experiences different than they went in, but not at all as they had hoped.

We used to say, “No good deed goes unpunished.”  It’s also true these days that no bad deed goes undiscovered.

Posted in: Perspective

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About the Author

Jack Roberts

Jack Roberts has been at the helm of the MHSAA as its Executive Director since 1986, implementing programs and overseeing tournament administration and regulations for the Association which boasts 1,500 member schools, 11,000 registered officials and 13,000 head coaches.

During the last 43 years, Roberts has spoken to educator and athletic groups, business leaders and civic groups in almost every state and five Canadian provinces. He is one of the nation's most articulate advocates for educational athletics.

Roberts has served on several national association boards and is the first chairman of the NFHS Network board of directors. He has been board president for the Refugee Development Center: for six years, and is past-chair of the board of directors of the Michigan Society of Association Executives. He was selected to the board of trustees for the Capital Region Community Foundation in December.

He is a 1970 graduate of Dartmouth College, where he played defensive safety for the Ivy League's winningest football team during that span, and he sang in Dartmouth's close harmony vocal group.

His wife, Peggy, has recently retired from a 30-year career in social services, and is serving as president of the board of the Fenner Nature Conservancy in Lansing. 

Jack and Peggy are passionate world travelers and have two grown sons: John, who - with his partner, Liliana Garces - are on the school of education faculty at Penn State University; and Luke, who - with his wife, Alison - are international school educators in Wuxi, China.