This week, we started to examine AWE as a strength of character and leadership. This post takes a more targeted focus on this virtue by examining one often under appreciated capacity we humans have… and the dangers that come from such under appreciation.
But first, I invite you to read this article from the New York Times on We Aren’t Built to Live in the Moment. Martin Seligman speaks to that aforementioned capacity we humans have and both its promise and peril. Awareness. I personally and humbly suggest that it is the message of the story of Adam and Eve.
As with all great sacred and scriptural writings from all faiths, it is written as allegory… a symbolic narrative. Eating of the Tree of Knowledge speaks to our once dormant but now existent capacity to reflect and ponder. Intelligence exists in all animals to varying degrees and types. I would suggest that Adam and Eve are an ancient understanding that once we were unable to comprehend “meaning” or “possibility”… knowledge… and then we were. The Devil, so to speak, was in the peril and temptation of such awareness. This does not deny the story of Adam and and Eve but it recognizes the inherit wisdom of that story. Once we became truly aware of our existence and understood things and constructs beyond that existence, we took on a new capacity. We became more, and less.
We have the incredible capacity to ponder, plan and imagine. But we can imagine the worst or the best, in the past or the future. That imagination can inspire us or scare us. It can advance us or cripple us.
Our work suggests that character lives in the present. You cannot be of courage or compassion tomorrow. You can be of them today. The practice of character is, indeed, a practice of presence and mindfulness. We cannot be of courage, zeal or strength in the past nor future because BEING implies the now.
It is important to note that we have the incredible capacity to plan; and worry. From the Bible itself we are told to “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.” My understanding of this is that we are not being told to avoid planning. We are being told to avoid the worrying. As someone once told me, worry is a waste of imagination.
So, how do we plan without needless worry? Here is our suggestion.
Character has many faces; the virtues. By practicing them, we are BEING. The practice of all the virtues requires BEING and that implies the NOW. In any given situation, we can practice acceptance, compassion, detachment, loyalty, strength, understanding and zeal. In any given situation, we can choose to practice any of the virtues. They require presence and the PRESENT. Just yesterday, I wrote of 3 we seem to need collectively right now.
Look at any situation you are facing at home, school, work, business or community… right now. Ask yourself, “What virtues are demanded of me, now?”
Answer that question.
Practice the answers.
Practice requires presence of mind, body, spirit and soul.
And, practice makes permanent.
So often we hear, almost as cliche now, that we must live in the now. But what does that look like? Is it simply about sitting or standing there? How do we BE in the NOW? I suggest that we be of courage and confidence in the now. We be of compassion and caring in the now. We be of discernment and wisdom in the now.
There is a quote from Baha’u’llah that I truly love. “Noble have I created thee yet thou hast abased thyself. Rise then unto that for which thou wast created.” Our nobility of spirit is in the now, yet we have abased ourselves with unnecessary fears and worries of the future, and past for that matter. We have distracted ourselves with WHAT IF and it has caused us, too often, to act out in ways counter productive. We are being called to something more; our best. That best can only be lived by BEING and in the NOW. That is how you build one great foundation; one great brick at a time.
Awareness is a gift. Awareness is awesome.
Peace, passion and prosperity.
Barry Lewis Green, aka The Unity Guy™
Barry is ultimately a vocalist, strength coach and educator. His work is about exploring, identifying, practicing and mastering our strengths and building upon them through practical and powerful unity and resourcefulness. That is why Barry is The Unity Guy™. EPIC Engage™ is an extension of The Unity Guy™. The Epic work is all about building strong, united and inspired cultures lead by character… at school, work, business and community; where everyone matters and contributes everyday.
Here are some additional resources that may be of use and\or interest and you might appreciate. ?
- Leader ToC with Sheena Grobb
- 9 experts with 9 ideas for success… a great read
PPS (Other Resources)
- Our work is all about character. We work hard and joyfully to help build character driven, united and resourceful organizations and communities around the globe. As part of that work, we offer you …
- and our buffet of FREE services and resources here.