In Your Cooperative System, I offered up on what I affectionately call the “synergy of purpose”. I suggested that I personally use 9 areas of my life to forge a balance and avoid competing “goals”. In order to build on one’s why, what, how, mission, vision, purpose and just cause, finding that balance is an imperative, I believe and contend. For me, the 9 areas must support one another, not unlike any high functioning system, team or organization. That in mind, I humbly suggest the read and reflect.
That said, the work put in and referenced in that piece caused me, last evening, to conceive of a road for my year ahead. I am very much a visual and tactile learner and doer, and I had some fun creating my own multi-brick road. It incorporates my 9, and helps manifest milestones both literally and figuratively. One needs not be an “artist” to create either my aforementioned System or this Roadmap. It simply requires the capacity to have fun, explore and even put on what I call the Character LENS.
The LENS of Character
The LENS is the core to my work, play and living. It refers to 4 elements that I find powerful in advancing a notion of sustainable growth, if you will. The L is about Language. As it is the Character Lens, the Language is about focusing on the Language of Character. It infers the need to study and learn on virtues as strengths of character. It implies a need to build a vocabulary around these strengths. It indeed implies digging beyond the superficial and often cliched sense of meaning around them.
The E is about Education, through practice and observation. Again, given the character focus of the LENS, it is about practicing these strengths at home, school, work, business, community and life… and observing and learning from their practice. I have long said that skill and behaviour is the tree and character is the soil from which it grows. If we take care of the soil, the tree will grow strong. And character is more fundamentally important than skill, especially in times of change and challenge. Education here is about sharpening the blades on the practice of these virtues; making it a commitment to experiment, explore and educate ourselves on their respective capacities… in times of trial and triumph and all points in between.
The N refers to Nobility, and concerns itself with our countenance. To practice Nobility is to see ourselves (and others) as of value; not simply as “opportunities” but inherently of real value. I say that this is a countenance because it must needs be a spirit with which we approach our language and learning in the first two elements of the LENS.
To practice this strength, we acknowledge and accept that we matter, and so do those with whom we work, study, play and live. We do not sees ourselves as someone special, but we see ourselves and others as important. Indeed, and in deed, it is Humility in action.
This is a spirit that guides our best practice of sustainable and sustaining growth. That said, it is manifested in the 4th element, Service.
Service has long been tossed around in the references to customer and public and military service. But really, what is it?
It is action. It is Helpfulness. It is Caring. It is Excellence. It is a virtue; a strength of character. It ultimately is about contribution. And when I reference it in the LENS, I suggest that yes, we must explore language and learning around character and its development and we must adopt a notion that we and others matter and are of value… but it all comes together in what we DO; our Service. Our capacity to grow is born of our practice of Service.
Service is a virtue; a strength of character. With it, we are useful wholeheartedly so… it is not a chore to us. With the practice of Service, it is not about celebrity, fame nor fortune. It is about being thoughtful in our doing and our giving of attention. We are fully present with its practice.
With it, we contribute at home, school, work, business, community and life. It is important to find our best ways to serve as there are so many ways we can. We must each find those best ways without adopting some “messianic” save-the-whole-world mantra. Personally, I find purpose to help with that; in getting our focus on. Indeed, my System and Roadmap are helping me get ever more clear going forward.
And, I find the global goals to be of help in providing me opportunity to see where I can best serve. “The betterment of the world can be accomplished through pure and goodly deeds, through commendable and seemly conduct” are words that remind me of a simple formula for Service; the practice of character. The Character LENS provides a simple framework for language, learning, leading and lending our hands in Service. Going forward with my personal System and Road Map, the LENS will guide my work, play and life. Peace, passion and prosperity…
“Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing. ― Abraham Lincoln