I recently downloaded The Road to Character by David Brooks on my Kindle. My initial thinking was this is really good information; maybe I will include this in my next blog. Then last Sunday, Reverend Jean referenced the material in this book in her talk at Unity Eastside Church. This morning, when I opened an Insurance Industry eNewsletter by Lisa Miller and Associates, there it was again; information and quotes from this book. Maybe this is more than a coincidence.
While I have just started the book, I am struck by his discussion about Resume Virtues and Eulogy Virtues. Resume virtues are the milestones in your life, like where you went to school, your degree, where you worked, or your job titles. These are the skills that many of us talk about because they bring us external success in our job or career. When asked about our background, this is how many of us describe ourselves. While these attributes are important in our work life, are they everything? Is this the true us?
David Brooks goes on to explain that Eulogy Virtues are the ones that get talked about at your funeral. “This is your core or your being – whether you are kind, brave, honest or faithful. Most of us agree that the eulogy virtues are more important attributes than resume virtues”. I, like the author, admit that most of my life I have focused on the resume items. After learning how to reflect on life during a 38 day 500 mile pilgrimage last year, I have now come to realize the internal qualities are much more important and bring real meaning to life.
Apparently this book has struck a chord with many people.
Lisa Miller’s insurance industry trade newsletter that I referenced above had the title “Dispositional Gratitude May Be the Real Key to Success”. Too often we hear too much negative about business, especially the “Insurance” business. This newsletter is a good example of the good human nature of many business people.
In Lisa’s reference to this book, she was wowed and quoted him with this very insightful post “Success leads to our greatest failure which is pride. Failure leads to our greatest success which is humility and learning”
The Newsletter went on for several paragraphs to describe and discuss all the attributes of gratitude and how this changes your life.
As a result, one place I am starting and I try to remind myself on a daily basis is; serving with gratitude; both at work and play.
Last week, Reverend Jean had us go through an exercise where we listed what we would want people in our life to say about us at our memorial. From the following categories we made these notations ; such as 1) people in our family,2) our friends, 3) our business associates or coworkers, 4) people in our church and 5) individuals in other categories of your life. This really got my mind churning. What would they say? How have I impacted people? This exercise is not worrying what people say, it’s about developing who you want to be, the true you. I have learned life is a work in process and we are always learning and trying to apply these lessons to our lives. While at first, this exercise is a little scary to think about, it lets us reflect on a subject that really matters.
Jean made a suggestion on where to start building ideal Eulogy Virtues. She made a suggestion of using one of the habits from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. “Begin With the End in Mind” in your daily activities. For example, if you want to be remembered as kind, practice kindness with every person that you come into contact. I have tried this and it has made a major shift in my life and I recommend it. Life is really rich now that I am also focusing on the things that are really important, like relationships with family, friends, clients and people I meet. The reward has been in both my work and personal life.
Maybe this guy David Brooks is on to something.
Get outside and go for a walk. Grab a new friend, or family member get outside and talk about gratitude and your ideal eulogy virtues. It will add new meaning to your life.
The Road to Character, Are You In?