The word “value” depicts a quality or trait of something that we uphold as valuable. Value is defined in the dictionary as a deeply held belief worthy of a specific behavior. We value certain behaviors and seek to live those values through our actions. We also seek to be more valuable to society and our families. Values are just words unless we choose to practice them and make them a habit, whether in private or public. Acting in alignment with a value in public, but doing something else in private is acting; it is not the same as upholding the value.
This point is often missed by public figures. Greek philosophers were so adamant about character that they believed it defined one’s value as a citizen. Heraclitus said that “character is destiny” and Aristotle told us that “to enjoy the things we ought to enjoy…has the greatest bearing on excellence of character,” and “no one who desires to become good will become good unless he does good things.” More recently Ralph Waldo Emerson advised that “character is higher than intellect,” and Albert Schweitzer said that “example is not the main thing in life…it is the only thing!”
These philosophers are in agreement that what your actions are, whether in public or private, speak to your character. It isn’t what you think or say that is most important; it is the actions you take, especially when no one is looking. So the question is: Do you act in alignment with the values in public as well as when no one is looking? Have you practiced them until they were etched into your very being? And just what values hold the most character power anyhow? Which can we count on as “power virtues” which when burned into your character make you more powerful in life? This is highly subjective, but I will offer you my top six power virtues in this new blog series. They will provide fodder for a lifetime of work on your path to self-mastery.
Hooyah, Mark Divine