“The Character Ethic, which I believe to be the foundation of success, teaches that there are basic principles of effective living, and that people can only experience true success and enduring happiness as they learn and integrate these principles into their character.” Stephen R Covey.
And, by default, the opposite is also true – that enduring unhappiness is the result of a failure to learn and integrate such principles.
History is rife with stories about the ‘great’ who have fallen because of a failure to act with good character. The funniest comedians, the most talented singers, ‘respected’ politicians and knights of the (UK) realm, rewarded for their great charity work who, after their deaths, turn out to have been truly evil .
The Second Resolution teaches “To overcome the restraining forces of pride and pretension, I resolve to work on character and competence.”
Pride and pretension are behaviours or states of being that identify and are characteristic of an individual who is hiding behind a false image. They appear competent, good, talented, funny and popular. But, underneath, there is a ‘truth’ that perhaps only they know. That they lie, cheat, steal others’ ideas, and in truth are not what they appear to be. Occasionally they get away with it, some until they die, but in the final analysis they are routinely discovered to have been less than we believed.
Some are truly people of great character. They contribute, they provide, they work tirelessly for themselves and for others. Most of us lie somewhere in between! I put myself in there somewhere – as a person who seeks to be good but frequently falls short. A man who is occasionally victim to ‘educated prejudice’, who has seen things which make him think in a certain way, a way that others might find distasteful – although that distaste is occasionally fed by their ‘educated prejudice’. The truth lies in between.
For me, the first step to getting better is to make the Second Resolution. To be aware that pride and pretension is holding you/me/us back and stopping you/me/us becoming what you/I/we could truly become. To acknowledge that there is some pretence to what we are doing, and that we could be doing better. That we could be better at walking our talk, at being congruent in the sense that we (finally) act wholly and always in accordance with what we believe – and what we say out loud.
The more I write this entry, I realise that the hardest work I’ve ever done will be achieved through ensuring congruity between my word and my deeds.
And life will be all the greater if I ever get there.