The real cost of dishonesty and lack of integrity

If you can’t trust the people that work for you, you’re in a lot of trouble

I overheard a rather disturbing conversation in the locker room the Friday morning before the Patriots lost to the Denver Broncos.

“They won’t let Aaron Hernandez watch TV in prison. He can’t even watch any of the games!”

“That guy had the world by the tail, and he threw it all away.”

“There was no way the Patriots management didn’t know what he was like. None of the other teams wanted him when they drafted him.”

“I consider it a testament to Belichick’s incredible leadership to keep a thug like that playing well and out of trouble for so long.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I have no idea whether owner Robert Kraft and coach Bill Belichick knew of Hernandez’ extracurricular activities or not. What bothered me was that these guys thought they did, and it was OK. In fact, the implication was that it’s too bad they couldn’t keep Hernandez longer.

I don’t even know these guys’ names or what they do, but they appeared to be getting ready for professional jobs somewhere. Offhand, I can’t think of too many jobs where honesty and integrity aren’t truly important.

Hernandez isn’t accused of minor crimes, but murder. And he’s being investigated for connections to some other ones.

To think it would be laudable for the Patriots to shelter and condone such behavior, had they known about it, to me is unconscionable.

If you suspect the guy’s a murderer, would you still want to cheer him into the end zone?

Greatest cost of all

From the club where I swim, I went to get gas. As I was pulling away from the pump, my car got hit by a large van truck, the kind so often used for wholesale deliveries of junk food to convenience stores. It seems he was taking a right turn and didn’t see me. He turned right into me, seriously damaging the fender, bumper and headlight on the driver’s side.

There wasn’t a scratch on the truck. Even worse, he claimed I had hit him! I pointed to the damage on my car and explained those parts would have been pushed in had I hit him, not ripped out as they were; it made no difference. That was his story, and he stuck to it.

He called his boss, who was a short distance away and came over. We summoned the police as well. I have to wait two weeks to see the police report, so we’ll have to wait to see whether or not he understood what the damage obviously indicated.

The insurance appraiser understood immediately. He took pictures, which he forwarded to the home office. When I spoke with the adjuster a couple of days later, he understood as well, and is proceeding against the other insurance company for me.

Had this driver worked for me, he would have gotten a lot of points if he had said something like, “I’m sorry; I guess I hit him.” I would think, “That’s great. This kid has integrity; I can trust him.”

I hate to tell you what my opinion of him would be when he tried to spin a tale that couldn’t possibly work with the evidence at hand.

Nobody likes to admit fault in an accident. In fact, nobody likes to admit fault – period. We all make mistakes, and having enough character to admit it and apologize can really set you apart in today’s world.

If you’ve ever run a business or an operation of any sort, you know you can’t manage effectively without information you can trust. You can’t gather everything yourself, nor do you want to spend all your time checking and cross-checking. If you can’t trust the people that work for you, you’re in a lot of trouble.

Getting back to the Patriots, Mr. Belichick paid a rather substantial fine when he got caught cheating a few years ago. The rallying cry at the time was, “No big deal – everybody does it.”

Yes, far too many people do it, and it is a big deal. The meter is always running, and we pay for this, whether we’re buying a ticket to a football game or a bag of chips.

Perhaps the greatest cost of all is to our kids, many of whom are ardent Patriots fans. Do we really want them growing up thinking that cheating and lying are OK? After all, their heroes are doing it.

Ronald J. Bourque, a consultant and speaker from Windham, has had engagements throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. He can be reached at 603-898-1871 or