What is the greatest human characteristic? Is it courage or persistence? Is it tenacity or is it having focus? Is it love or is it in keeping a winning attitude? It can be a confusing question in a society that no longer teaches the virtue of good character. In our society there is a dominant focus on winning at any expense; in every endeavor. It is about physical and mental stamina, often at the expense of character. Whether for the individual or the organization, the emphasis on character and what it means is diluted, as author David Brooks says, by the "Big Me!" Brooks shares in his book, "The Road to Character!" (Publisher) the road block to character is the "Big Me!" With the "Big Me" there is no "Big We!" The "Big We" is not about you or I; it is all about US!
If you look at character from a faith perspective, it is simply a secular word for a Divine reality called, virtue. Virtue is the summation of the positive foundational characteristics of the human response to the challenges of life. Virtue is not something you learn on the sports field, where mighty people are mashing heads to get the ball to the goal. Virtue is what you bring to the sports field. Virtue is in your "DNA" (Divine Natural Attribute); it was created and woven into your very nature. We are created in God's image to be good and virtuous. It is not to be learned, but lived; in living it we can uncover its reality in our Divine nature. The world tries to teach us that some people are bad and some people are good, but truth be told, His original plan was that we were all made good; but some of us come to do bad things because of our fallen nature. The character of virtue is like your Gift. It exists in the hearts and minds of the created nature of men and women. The character of virtue is already in you and I; we just need to let it out so it can bloom. The character of virtue is like truth; when left to its own power it will come to be the natural focus. So, how do we let it out? How do we find the good in a person who does bad things? Pause and think about it. Start by focusing on whatever little good is exposed! As we focus and nurture a person's self-discovery based on the good we find in them, the now of ignorance melts away and more of the character of virtue appears. This happens little by little, until there is more good exposed than bad.
The person who asks, "How can I quit my bad habits?" has the wrong focus. It is not about quitting the bad habit; it is all about focusing on the desired good habit. Our son Alex teaches special education children who are challenged. He does this by helping them focus on their good. He uses his own personal style to build an environment of encouragement. He has the Gift of helping others find the good that is already in them and nurtures it. Alex is able to do this because he understands that the greatest human characteristic is the virtue of humility...it is not the Me; it is the WE. If the good in this world is to be released, it will not be up to Me; it will be up to We! Begin each encounter today by sharing in the good.