Mr. Fixit, Part 2

One of the key themes during this year’s US Presidential debates (besides the economy, duh!) was the demise of values; family values, American values, social values, neighbourly values, etc.  And a particular hot topic was the seeming disregard for positive social values in today’s youth.  Today young people are less respectful of authority and their elders, and definitely less respectful of teachers, than just a few generations ago.  This can easily be seen in the decline of discipline in classrooms and school grounds.  Violence, bullying, and chaos in classrooms are a regular part of the school day for an increasing number of students.

Many lay blame on the fact that a growing number of young people now live in broken homes, either due to divorce or fatherless families. Others blame the poor economy as contributing to the lack of jobs and growing disenfranchisement with the social system. The stability and values-based education once instilled through the home and community are being replaced with the values seen on television and in computer games – values of greed, violence, dishonesty and intolerance.

America is indeed a fractured nation and the shared values that once united the polyglot of immigrant cultures into a proud and productive nation are rapidly disappearing.  And with the disappearance of shared values goes the cohesion and willingness to work together for solutions for the common good.

I don’t believe the divorce rate is going to go down any time soon.  I don’t think television will suddenly shift to positive programming.  I don’t think computer games will start delivering overwhelmingly beneficial social and life lessons.  And it doesn’t look like economic prosperity is around the corner.

So, what to do about rebuilding our positive social values?  Let me tell you a story:

When I lived in the Palos Verdes area of Southern California in the mid 1990s, my next door neighbor had two teenage sons.  Neither were very studious but the youngest was a particular problem, to his parents and to the neighborhood.  His language was loud and foul, all the time.  He was disrespectful to his mother and the neighbours.  He did no chores around the house to help his mother, who was recently divorced and working full time.  He got into fights at school.  To me this kid was headed for a miserable life and probably time in jail.

With no prospects upon graduation from high school, his mother signed him up for the US Marine Corps and off he went to Basic Training.  It was quiet and peaceful in the neighborhood for the next 13 weeks or so.  And then he was home on leave.

I didn’t recognize the clean cut, respectful and considerate young man who said “Good Morning, Sir” to me as he was mowing the lawn and I was leaving the house for work.  His mother later told us she cried when he came home a changed person. He finished his tour of duty, went to Junior College and is now a hard working family man.

Values can be taught.  And they can be learned and internalized.  America needs its next generations to relearn the values that make people and nations strong, tolerant, productive and respectful of others.

Mr. Fixit’s next initiative is make basic military service compulsory for all Americans aged 18.  The details of how long, what types of deferments, etc., can all be worked out.  The fact is, the US military already has great team based values training capabilities.  No need to develop a new program or agency.  And in the majority of cases, it works very well.  Young people learn the value of teamwork, discipline, accountability, hard work, friendship and also skills that can be used later in life of how to get along with others. In short order America would be rebuilding a nation of shared values and a nation full of confidence, accountability and pride.

If we are to put the US back on its feet economically and socially, then we must work together harder than we ever have before. When I look back and see how people rallied together as a nation during WWII, that is the type of cohesion and shared work ethic that is required today. And such cohesion can only come about through a set of shared values that we all strongly believe in.

Note: And if the UK wants to avoid the current unharmonious situation of the US, then compulsory military service might be something to consider as well.

Tight Lines . . .

John R Childress

About johnrchildress

John Childress is a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at or
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3 Responses to Mr. Fixit, Part 2

  1. Raunak says:

    John, our party manifestos are going to be pretty similar. Lets go for a merger 🙂
    Being raised in an Army family, I have always held military disciplining in high regards and owe a lot of my values and way of life to the strict army environment I was brought up in. Making military training mandatory for all Indians has been among the top to-do items in my wish list for a long time.


  2. Suzan Joyce says:

    If anyone state-side starts the Fixit Party, give them my email address. Of course, I wish you would come back and head up the party. You have the strongest ideas for helping us get back on course and although there would be pushback from every direction, if we could get people in every state to sit down and have this discussion using your points, maybe we could get things started in the right direction.

    It is highly discouraging to have a President elected and then have 41 states start petitions to secede. We are no longer the united states of America, but the states that make up America. How sad indeed.


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