I find it increasing harder to take the high road because so few people even know that a high road exists.
Seriously. I struggle thinking about taking the high road, doing the right thing, rising above the fray, when it seems that so few people even care that you are doing so. What’s the lesson in doing the right thing when no one cares about the lesson? Yeah, I can hear you now saying how pessimistic that view is and how can I do that when I work at LeaderShape! We do have our moments from time to time even when we work in such a positive environment.
I’m not sure if you struggle with the same thing or not, but I’m thinking a lot about it lately. Probably why I have been drawn to books on character, integrity, and beliefs. I’ve been reading the latest book by New York Times columnist David Brooks titled The Road to Character as the title really jumped out at me. Mostly because the title suggests that getting to character takes some travel. Perhaps even a journey. That journey is what intrigues me. Maybe we have to wonder a bit and struggle with these issues continuously as it molds us much like a river molds the river bank and shapes the rocks.
I’ve mentioned before the importance of staying in hard conversations and “the mess” as a way to address the issues we face as a society and as leaders. That hard conversation can also occur within our own heads as we wrestle with decisions such as whether to take the high road or not. Brooks mentions the difference between “resume” virtues and “eulogy” virtues. Love the way he presents that. The virtues that we adopt to impress other people and the virtues we adopt that will be remembered by. Those are definitely decisions we make in our mind that craft our character and the virtues that we believe in and adopt.
I think you will enjoy reading this book as you think deeply about those virtues you hold dear, whether you decide to take the high road or not, and how your journey is progressing on the road to character.
Good luck in that conversation. It may actually lead you to that high road where you may run into someone else trying to do the same. Then maybe it will seem more real. More crowded. More well worn.
More worth fighting for.