Personal Virtues, Friends, and a Better World

For many of us the end of the year is a time for reflection.  I always use the end of the year to reflect on how often did I step up to leverage my personal qualities to make a difference for someone, especially someone in need.  Am I a better personal brand today than when I started the year?  Or did I pass up too many opportunities to help others, letting my personal brand atrophy and waste my talents and personal virtues?

I admire many of my friends and colleagues because they work hard at becoming better personal brands in the most important way – they challenge themselves to make a difference for others.   I also admire them because of their authentic personal virtues.   In many ways the mosaic of the outstanding personal virtues that I see in many of my friends and colleagues represent the personal brand that I aspire to be and imagine if more people embraced them the world might be a better place.

Creating a list of admirable personal brand virtues came to mind as I was reading the book The Seven Deadly Virtues.  This collection of easy-to-read, short essays makes for a friendly (and fun) way to get back in touch with many important personal virtues.  As I was reading each of the essays a friend or colleague whom I admire would quickly come to mind as one who epitomizes that virtue.   The more I read, the more I realized that many people I admire as having a strong personal brand share many of the virtues discussed in the book.

Many of the essays in this book gave me some new insights into the seven traditional virtues and a collection of “everyday” virtues.  It was a good refresher on a set of virtues that are easy to get lost in the everyday activity of getting things done.  These new insights caused me to reflect on how well I am doing on nourishing and using some of these personal virtues to become a better personal brand.

These same insights might provide you some food for thought you as you reflect how well your personal brand is doing.

Here are some of the key insights that caught my attention reading through The Seven Deadly Virtues. (Please note that all the quoted material comes from this book, unless otherwise noted.)

Gratitude

This simple definition of gratitude left a strong impression with me about its power.

“Gratitude magnifies the sweet parts of life and diminishes the painful ones. … And in addition to everything else, gratitude is the engine for progress: We build not because we are dissatisfied with the world as it is, but because we are grateful to all those who have built it to this point and wish to repay them by making our own contributions to their work.”

The instant I finished reading that definition of gratitude my friend Sharon Lane came to mind.  Spend a little time with Sharon and you will be inspired by the power of gratitude.

Prudence

Prudence is the virtue of reason, using our humility, demonstrating restraint and trusting our wisdom before we make judgments about anything or anybody.  Consider this ditty about the virtue of prudence:

“The lack of prudence breeds a kind of silliness that only very sophisticated people are capable of; certain forms of ignorance are available exclusively to intellectuals who know so much that they have forgotten how much they don’t know.”

In our contemporary world fueled by the allure of “big data” and desire to measure everything in every business activity, we must be careful not to let “pedestrian statistical analysis” replace our wisdom or common sense.  Conventional wisdom has more to offer than it gets credit for.  A quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson comes to mind – “Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes.”

If something doesn’t make sense start by respecting the person, study or the situation and then politely ask questions, searching for more wisdom in the situation.  Demonstrating prudence means being humble enough to realize we don’t know everything; that we can certainly learn from others and being careful not rush to judgment or drawing a conclusion.

My friend John Wodele delivers the kind of wisdom that comes from the power of prudence. John’s display of humility and reason gives prudence a good name.

Courage

I feel very strongly about this virtue and reading about it made it even more important to me.  You should give it more thought.  Consider this description of courage to elevate your consideration of demonstrating this virtue in your everyday living.

“Courage is the essential virtue.  What good is intelligence, if you’re not strong enough to stand for good ideas? What’s the point of moral understanding if you lack the guts to do the right thing? What help is love if you don’t have the heart to defend those precious to you? Without courage, then prudence, wisdom, charity – every virtue on the list – all come to naught.”

My friend Tom Slemmer demonstrated the power of courage for more than 38 years as a leader that built an organization that provides a safe, clean home for thousands of vulnerable people that would otherwise be left in the cold and be prevented from getting to a better place in their life.

Charity

Charity is a mindset, not just a donation, and a virtue that can make for a better world.  Consider this explanation of charity from the “7 Virtues” book:

How much better our intellectual, public, and even home life would be if charity were the watchword.  If we assumed the best of people’s motives instead of the worst.  If we grappled with their best argument rather than their worst.  If we assumed that those who disagree with us are neither evil … or stupid.

Above all, if we’d only acknowledge that all of us are mistaken from time to time, then we’d be more willing to forgive others in the hopes they will extend the measure of charity to us.”

Enough said.

My friend Andrew Radvansky comes quickly to mind when I think about someone who exemplifies the virtue of charity.  His demonstration of charity is always on display and it has definitely rubbed off on me.

Every individual’s personal brand has the opportunity to grow and thrive if we are willing to be open, learn from others and apply one’s self to make a difference for someone else.   Many of my friends and colleagues inspire me to be a better person.   My job is to put the virtues I learn from them to good use for the benefit of someone else.  That’s my personal brand focus for 2015.

Here’s to the New Year that will provide us all many opportunities to nourish our personal brand and the chance for each of us to contribute in our own way to making our world a better place by making a difference for someone as often as we can.

Happy New Year!

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