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Keeping it Real

submitted by Steven Mays

Keeping it Real

I often tell people that you need three things to succeed in any endeavor: honesty, courage, and talent. And talent is the least important of the three.

I define honesty as the ability to see the world as IT IS, not as it should be, not as you would like it to be, but the way IT IS.

Courage is the willingness to take the morally correct action to benefit others even at your own expense.

Talent is the knowledge, training, and skill to carry out you duties in an honest and courageous manner.

I cannot point to a single failure in my career/life that occurred primarily due to a lack of talent. All of the big errors were due to not seeing things honestly or not being brave enough to do what needed to be done. Let me share a simple, but powerful example.

Toward the end of my time aboard the USS Los Angeles (SSN-688), I was the gray beard (longest serving member of the original commissioning crew) but was always drawing the mid-watch OOD assignment. Being the most senior officer standing the OOD watch (other than the Senior Watch Officer who made up the watch bill), I was convinced he had something in for me. At least that was my impression of the "real world" at the time. 

So, I confronted him and demanded an answer to my question which was, "WTF, why are the junior guys getting the easy watch rotation assignments and I get stuck on mid-watch every night?" The SWO, (who later commanded the LA), said that was what the Captain wanted. Still not paying attention to the "real world", I asked how I had made him pissed at me. Fortunately, he took pity on me and gave it to me gently, "Because you dumbass, that is when he sleeps!"

It took a few seconds to sink in. Then the shock of realizing that I hadn't been honest about the "real world" hit me like a ton of bricks. My CO wanted me on the Conn when he couldn't be there. As I reassessed the "real world", I also found out I was the only OOD he allowed to come to periscope depth without first waking him up to give him a SITREP.

So, here I was all worked up because I wasn't being honest with myself about my situation. Fortunately for me, I got set straight before I did anything stupid and it really boosted my morale to know I was trusted by my CO. 

Scott Peck talks about having an internal map of the world that one updates as new information come in. I wasn't doing that. I wasn't being HONEST. It turned out OK with only my pride getting taken down a few notches, but it is something to remember each time you think things are bad and you want action taken to correct it. First check your TRUTH-O-METER.

HONESTY first, then COURAGE, and then TALENT.

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

By Patrick Finnegan

Director, Integritas Project

I knew I wanted to shoot a hot air balloon over the great American landscape for the spot. I wanted one that was designed as an American flag. When at last we found it, how stunningly beautiful it was!

Tim, my host and the owner and pilot of the hot air balloon was excited about the Integritas Project and that this sport he loved and balloon he had designed would be featured in it. In the early 70's Tim had been accepted to the Naval Academy. In that same year, he qualified for the US Olympic team in wrestling. In a painful decision, he chose to represent his country on the Olympic stage, a dream that was dashed when our country boycotted the Olympics in protest.


But Tim never lost his passion nor his patriotism. Years later, when he met the woman who would one day become his wife, he took her on a date in a hot air balloon. From that moment, a part of Tim never left the sky. 

He and his wife were married in a hot air balloon and to this day travel to balloon fiestas together all over the country to enjoy their sport. When it came time for Tim to have his own balloon he knew just the symbol he wanted to design into it...Old Glory itself.

Tim piloting the Old Glory Balloon high above the Rio Grande

Tim piloting the Old Glory Balloon high above the Rio Grande

As the balloon began to fill he gestured to me to follow him inside the balloon. I took my camera and just as the dawn light began to reveal the silhouettes of some of the thousands of people gathered outside for the launch I began to roll...

Silhouettes of people at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

Silhouettes of people at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

One Man's Struggle With Integrity

One Man's Struggle With Integrity

Throughout my life, I have battled with the same internal struggles of integrity as the midshipmen featured in these videos. 

At times, I have been happy with the choices I was making and happy with myself as a person. Yet at other times times, I have strayed from my values and found myself committing acts that I was ashamed of. 

My goal with this story is to share with you my own methods for keeping and strengthening my integrity and willpower to do the right thing.

Small town general store

All over the country, in every walk of life people rose up and donated their time, their enthusiasm and their support to the Integritas Project.

On this trip we were traveling through New Hampshire on our way to Maine. I felt strongly I needed images which portray the words "from sea to shining sea" in the Faces spot. That drew me to the Maine coast, with its iconic lighthouses, lobster boats and brilliant light

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Seamen throughout history...

Seamen throughout history...

We headed north into Maine, the birthplace of American maritime history, and followed our noses along a winding coastal road until it spilled out into this stunning tidal basin with a few scattered houses and an faded red lobster shack.

Those who make their living from the sea learn a code of life from its sometimes perilous and unpredictable nature. As I filmed in this fishing culture, It struck me that to be at sea affords us a template to the path of honor.  Where living on land one can easily grow complacent, taking the certainty of the world beneath us for granted, I have never met a fisherman who didn't respect the sea for its great power and unpredictability.