Integrity

How much is your integrity worth?

I’ve heard it said, “Life is caught more than taught.” Ever since college I have caught a lot from Neal Gooch – often in random places. One time at a drive thru the woman at the window clearly undercharged us. I thought, “Bonus!” Neal looked at the receipt then he let the lady know she gave him back too much change. The woman quizzically looked as if to say, “Who does that?”

As we pulled away from the restaurant, Neal looked at me and said, “My integrity isn’t worth $2.48.” Without 3 points and a poem, Neal taught me what integrity was all about.

I picked up a few more life maxims on Saturdays doing house projects with Neal. He often invited me and a few other guys over for what he called, “quality time.” I think it really meant he got quality work done without much quantity pay. As poor college students he knew exactly how to bribe us. Enticed by bacon and eggs, or pastries, or pizza, me and my buddies left the comforts of our dorm room and found Saturday’s filled with spreading mulch, cleaning out a basement, or painting walls. The food was the hook, the brotherhood was a bonus, but the real prize was watching a husband love a wife and a dad play with his kids in between the chores. Often after hauling boxes and cracking jokes, we heard how Neal spoke kindly to his wife, watched him kiss his eldest son on the forehead, and saw him dust off his youngest after a fall and say, “You’re ok, dude. Brush it off.”

As a young college guy who didn’t grow up with a dad, I caught what a dad at home looked like. Today Neal and Jennifer Gooch and their four sons live in Johannesburg, South Africa. My wife and I traveled there recently to spend a few days with their family. Once again, I found myself catching Neal show me what being a husband and dad looks like. Watching him interact with the family, especially his teenage sons, gave me a glimpse of what I aspire to become: a man who stands by his word to love his wife, raise his children to model integrity, and not sell his integrity for a few bucks.

Dee Lanier

Head Coach, UNCOMMEN

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