People talk about the moral compass, and I’ve often wondered how to define that. It’s been described in the dictionary as ‘anything that serves to guide a person’s decisions based on morals or virtues.’
I have trouble with the word ‘moral’ because it’s open to so many interpretations, and so I prefer to think of it as ‘doing the right thing’. Of course, doing the right thing is dependent on your values, and your sense of fairness, and things being ‘right’. But this doesn’t necessarily explain what ‘doing the right thing’ is, either.
Language is a huge barrier sometimes. We all know individuals whose actions are caring, conscious, and conscientious. Many times we admire them for their courage too, because they don’t take the easy road. Their lives may seem so far away from ours, and yet, our common thread is that we all share the same desire to be better than we are.
Recently, a friend sent me an article written by David Brooks called The Moral Bucket List and it struck a chord. Take the time to read it. It will uplift you.
He gave examples of people who hold an inner light, always in service of others, and who inspire it in others. These are people who don’t give much attention to their worldly status, or career path, but are more concerned with the impact it has on other people, and do their best to shine that light on them. Some of our best leaders have that trait.
He also spoke about the eulogy virtues vs the resume virtues, and said that while we are encouraged to build an external career, we are not taught how to build our inner character. By living for external achievement, we leave unexplored the deeper meaning of life that brings joy, and connects you with what really matters.
This is the piece I call self-mastery. The courage to confront you by opening awareness of your true strengths and weaknesses, and your ability to take that into the world with confidence and courage to serve others as authentically as you can.
We may go to our graves being lauded for our professional achievements, but the most meaningful praise will be that we made a difference in the life of someone else, and we were true to ourselves.
One of the gifts of having a strong ‘do the right thing’ is your ability to honestly confront your weaknesses. I’m naturally an impatient woman, and over the years, I’ve had to regulate my impatience. I also used to be very quick to blame, and I’ve learned that blame and judgment only escalate the conflicts. There are other weaknesses that I’m prone to, but this is not the time to air the dirty laundry!
The point is, if it had not been for the strong, supportive and encouraging teachers, coaches, colleagues and friends, not to mention my husband, who helped me raise my awareness of these elements of personality that weakened me, and taught me to be more honest with myself, I might still be missing my ‘moral compass’, and I would not have the opportunity to teach these same things to the men and women I coach.
Brooks says, “External success is achieved through competition with others. But character is built during the confrontation with your own weakness.”
After a lifetime of fighting battles with myself, and others, I’ve learned that our greatest weaknesses are our greatest strengths misapplied. With some compassion, forgiveness, and conscious living you can discover the tools to establish the life you choose to live, not the life that feels like you’ve been chosen to live.
Life is a process. We commit ourselves to being a better person over and over again, until the lessons we have learned are instilled in us naturally. We take these challenging, sometimes painful journeys to discover the essence of who we are, to do what’s right, and to become the person we always wanted to be.
We all have a moral compass. What’s yours?
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