I heard this on the NFL Network yesterday morning … quoted by Tom Brady.  I have since searched it out… the source is apparently that famous person “Anonymous“.  But I did source this pic here… http://imgur.com/oG5dyFB

We didn’t come this far to only come this far.

I can relate.  Can you?  That being said, it did bring my thinking to character, strength and virtue… go figure.

Getting where we need to go, amidst trials and triumphs alike, requires character and this thing called virtue. The word virtue comes with all kinds of baggage.  We often think it spiritual or moral or soft somehow.  Certainly, generosity, caring, compassion and more have that understanding around them.  Yet, there is nothing soft about practicing any of these.

Merriam-Webster.com indicates that the word virtue is in the top 10% of popularity (coooool) and the site provides a …

Simple Definition of virtue

  • : morally good behavior or character
  • : a good and moral quality
  • : the good result that comes from something

As a Master Facilitator with The Virtues Project globally, I might suggest that my only concern with this definition is that it essentially describes virtue around behavior and results.  Virtues are, indeed, qualities or strengths of character and they are practiced.  Still, because one does not practice a virtue does not make it non-existent.  Virtues exist.  Period.  Whether we access them or not… whether we practice them or not… they still exist.  Because you do not demonstrate compassion does not mean that compassion does not exist.  Because you do not manifest confidence does not mean that confidence does not exist.  How many times have you or I ever heard someone say “I have no patience”.  Oh, you do not “have” a virtue.  You practice it, to develop it.  The more you develop it, the greater and easier access you have to it.  It is like cutting a path to a river… the more you do it, the easier your future access to it.

Virtues exist, like the river.  They are accessed and practiced in order to apply, grow and develop.  There is nothing soft about it.

Watch this video.  What determines your character?  You do.  You can develop your character.  While I love this video and its message; and am a student of same… the work has been around for a long time.  The Virtues Project alone has been around since 1990.  Still, virtue and its exploration and development is a topic of ancient and everlasting nature.  Great leadership… truly great leadership… has always manifested virtue.

Virtue is neither good nor bad.  Everyone practices some virtues while not others.  Certainly there have been leaders who practiced assertiveness and confidence without compassion and empathy.  That results in aggression.  They win for a while but history typically does not serve them so well.  Those leaders who have stood the test of time in our collective perception typically exhibit a balance of virtues.

Indeed, in The Virtues Project, we would say you cannot have too much of a virtue.  It is more of a question of having balance in your virtues.  Flexibility with Orderliness.  Assertiveness with Empathy.  Zeal with Grace.  You get the picture.  Balance in Virtue is akin to Balance in the Force.

For now, my simple suggestion is this.  Virtue is our common birthright, while too often its practice has been uncommon.  Humanity shares in its capacity to practice virtue whether we, as individuals, choose to practice them or not.  There is nothing soft or naive or weak about virtues and their practice.  Certainly, in this day and age, practicing virtue can be an incredible challenge.  It ain’t soft… it is hard.  Still, in doing so, we have the opportunity to inspire both ourselves and others.

In the coming year, on a weekly basis, we will explore virtues and their application in the real world, here and now.  We will examine the science and art of their application as leaders in school, within families, at work and in the community.

The path ahead requires strength of character.  We have gotten this far, thus far.  I invite you to explore the path forward and the balance needed, with me.

Peace, passion and prosperity.

Barry Lewis Green, aka The Unity Guy™