Who have been the most influential people throughout your life, helping to shape your character?
Examine your most favorable and admirable traits to see when they were developed. What made you decide, intentionally or by default, to adopt your temperament, personality, and general approach to life?
On the flip side, what are some of your bad habits and less desirable character traits? What people or other factors influenced these qualities and behaviors to become your less than optimal self?
Take a good long and objective look at the company you keep. Where is it time for an upgrade? Where might you perhaps delete some viruses or other character software running in the background?
“You can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips.”
—Oliver Goldsmith, 18th Century Irish Poet
Over the past few years I have gained a great interest in history, with a particular emphasis on the lives of remarkable people who have shared our world.
In his book, The Road to Character, author David Brooks focuses on the deeper values that inform the lives of numerous pivotal figures. I had no knowledge of many of them before reading this book.
Introducing the terms “resumé virtues” and “eulogy virtues,” Brooks points to the external achievement of wealth, fame, and status, comparing them to qualities that lie at the core of our being, such as kindness, bravery, honesty, and faithfulness. How we balance the two types of virtues along our life journey represents the road to character we can choose to navigate and explore.
Who are the leaders and special individuals – today, and from the past – that helped you become the person you are today?
What examples did they set through their daily efforts as well as their words?
What sermons are you delivering each day in your personal and professional communities?
I clearly recall my parents emphasizing the adage, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Unfortunately, this altruistic idea is difficult when we desire to belong and fit in with our various communities.
Using the radio metaphor, where do you stand in your willingness to receive destructive transmissions? When do you initiate them? Given our hyper-connected social media world, these messages can spread like wildfire.
What if you choose to be an angel – rather than a devil- by sharing only positive, affirming messages today? What would be possible if we all engaged in this approach?