Lose the Tilt
It has been said, “Ambition often outstrips reason when it comes to building.” As most real estate professionals know, an edifice’s structural integrity is vital, and therefore, it is essential not to cut corners. One of the most profound and famous examples of structural failure might be the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The trouble lies not in the tower itself but in the insufficient foundation, which has resulted in a tilt of 3.99 degrees. Engineers report the maximum lean before the tower falls is 5.44. We may never know if misguided ambition played a role in its planning but if so, the result is obvious. I believe what is true for physical structures can also be true for living structures (you and me). Selfish ambitions or motives are detrimental to the foundation of our personal “life-tower” and will result in a degree of tilt that, in time, could cause catastrophic damage. Let me illustrate.
Al Capone is one of the most notorious mob bosses in history. His immense wealth came from bootlegging, prostitution, and murder. As you can imagine, a man like that needs an excellent lawyer, and for Capone, that man was “Easy Eddie.” Easy Eddie was so good that Capone showered him with a lavish lifestyle that included a mansion that filled an entire Chicago city block.
Despite Eddie’s occupation choice, he lived in regret and carried a deep desire to teach his son to be a better man than he. Ultimately to try to do just that, Eddie decided to testify against Capone. Within a year of testifying, Eddie’s life ended tragically in a fiery shootout in Chicago. Eddie’s faulty foundation eventually caught up with him, and his tilting life-tower collapsed.
Allow me to share another story of a Chicago native. Lieutenant Butch O’Hare was a WWII fighter pilot and realized that someone had forgotten to top off his fuel while heading out on a mission. Consequently, his commander ordered him to return to the ship. While flying back to the aircraft carrier, he saw a formation of enemy bombers approaching. In complete disregard for his safety, he single-handedly shot down five of the nine bombers. That act of heroism resulted in him being the first Navy recipient of the Medal of Honor in WWII. Sadly though, on September 19th,1943, his plane was shot down, and he was never found. The Navy named a destroyer in his honor in 1945. Four years later, Chicago’s airport, O’Hare International, was dedicated to his memory.
Two stories of two men from Chicago with opposite life-towers. One with a tilt. The other without. One ending in tragedy. The other in triumph. I bet it might surprise you to learn that Navy hero Lieutenant Butch O’Hare’s dad was Edward J. O’Hare. Better known as Easy Eddie.
So what foundational material is required so that a life tower doesn’t tilt? There are many characteristics I could list, but I believe the most essential ingredient is integrity. Integrity refers to the quality of being whole or complete, hence the term structural integrity. And, our life-tower will tilt if our integrity is compromised. Hopefully, the following precepts and questions will help determine the strength of our life’s foundation.
- It’s been said; integrity is telling myself the truth. Am I living in denial in regards to the structural integrity of my life’s foundation?
- Integrity is not only about what we will do but also what we won’t do. Are there areas in my life where I call wrong right and right wrong?
- Integrity is about choosing my actions based on a set of values rather than selfish ambition or motive. What is my life “Why,” and do my actions line up with the values therein?
- Integrity is about doing what is right and not what is easy. Do I take responsibility for my mistakes and own them?
- Integrity means we keep our promises. Is my “yes,” yes; and my “no,” no?
Depending on how we answered these questions reveals if the foundation under our life-tower needs adjusting. If so, let’s face the necessary corrections with courage and diligence. Because when we do, we will lose the tilt and begin to live a life as characterized by C.S. Lewis, “We do the right thing, even when no one is watching.”
Written by William “Billy” Nunez
Director of Culture, Fathom Realty
Florida State Broker