A Higher Ground

Published: May 5, 2008

By Jim Lichtman
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Dick Capen’s career is a unique blend of newspaper publishing and diplomacy.

After leaving as publisher and chairman of The Miami Herald, Capen served as the United States Ambassador to Spain and Assistant Secretary of Defense. Known for his commitment to personal values and a positive approach to life, he is a nationally recognized columnist, author, and speaker on contemporary trends in America.

In his book, Finish Strong, Dick offers is own code of conduct which he calls his “Higher Ground Check List”:

  • Anchor your life to higher ground. Simply do the right thing.
  • Live your life according to this higher calling – God’s calling.
  • Don’t always look to others to set the moral example because some won’t. Only you can determine the key personal values that should guide your life.
  • Demand that your leaders set an example. That’s what leadership is all about.
  • Conduct your life in an exemplary manner. If you can be a positive influence on just one person each day, you will make an enormous contribution.
  • Center your life on principle not popularity. Today’s hero can be tomorrow’s bum.
  • When you make mistakes, admit to them, apologize, and learn from the experience. Others may be willing to forgive you, but don’t forget that you must accept the consequences of your actions.
  • Build trusting relationships, starting with your family and friends. Trust counts, big time.
  • Don’t put yourself in positions where anyone could even think that you are doing something wrong. Perceptions are as powerful as reality.
  • Cherish your family, close friends and marriage. Each is key to a meaningful life.
  • Be an encourager, especially to those without hope.
  • Always be optimistic, even when you think our country is falling apart.  We have a long history of improving from one generation to the next.  Soon it will be your turn.
  • Serve others. The spirit of volunteerism is key to our future.


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