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The Road to Character

Hello friends,

I’m currently reading an interesting book called The Road to Character by David Brooks. I wanted to share an insight from it (from the first page, no less) that I think has direct implications for our world, on the Center for Professional Development’s mission and ultimately, for each one of us.

Brooks starts the book by comparing two sets of virtues: resume virtues versus eulogy virtues. He describes resume virtues as the skills you bring to the job market and that contribute to external success, whereas, eulogy virtues are things that get talked about at your funeral—the things that define the core of who you are. Brooks doesn’t condemn resume virtues. He says that those who pursue only the resume life end up as follows:

You are busy but you have a vague anxiety that your life has not achieved its ultimate meaning and significance. You live with an unconscious boredom, not really loving, not really attached to the moral purpose that gives life its worth. You lack the internal criteria to make unshakable commitments. You never develop inner constancy—the integrity that can withstand popular disapproval or a serious blow. You find yourself doing things that other people approve of. You judge other people by their abilities, not by their worth. You do not have a strategy to build character and, without that, not only your inner life but also your external life will eventually fall to pieces.

While those who pursue a eulogy life, who face their own character flaws, weaknesses and shortcomings and set about to change, end up developing strong character and achieving inner integration. They are:

Calm, settled, rooted, not blown off course by storms and don’t crumble in adversity. Their minds are consistent. Their hearts are dependable.

I spent some time this morning focusing on my own life, the life of the Center and its mission and the current condition of the world. I can’t change the world in a direct way, but I believe if I start with my own character and focus on the same virtues as we fulfill the mission of the Center as a team, we will have a direct, positive and life-changing impact on each other and the people we serve.

PAUL BENTLEY, D.MIN
Director – Boise State Center for Professional Development