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Saturday, 30 May 2015

the importance of #character

The Road to CharacterI listened to this RSA lunchtime lecture this last Thursday - David Brooks was the speaker on the subject of a book he has just written.

What follows is a mega summary of the lecture...    

.... and then a bit more detail created from some the ideas that particularly struck me.  

At the foot of this post are links to some other posts you may find useful.

Mega Summary

 link to this tweet
. "We focus much more on how to build a good career rather than a good character"

to build character you need to:

1) be self aware of your good and bad points;

2) let that awareness and your experience of life (including love & suffering) affect the humility and empathy and generosity with which you treat others;

3) focus not on your value but on your service to others

and in a bit more detail ...

David Brooks started off by talking about incandescent people  - like the Dali Lama  - and their inner glow.  In looking at such people he had started to think about how he could achieve that inner glow himself.

He then went on to describe 2 differing focus people seem to have in their lives

1) some seem to focus on their CV virtues - that is things they are good at, that are helpful for getting a good job and successful career

2) others seem to focus on their Eulogy virtues - the things that people will say about them at their funeral

He described these different approaches as "Adam 1" and "Adam 2" (taken from The Lonely Man of Faith by Rabbi Joseph B Soloveitchik) 

Adam 1 - the CV virtues - so an economic focus typified by words like logic, practice & produce & perfect, calculating, shrewd, work focused, conquer, venture, win

Adam 2 - Eulogy virtues - so typified by words like humility, love, doing good, vocation, selflessness, generosity and self sacrifice

David suggested that our culture is out of balance with a focus on Adam 1.

So we are taught to brand ourselves, to have a good career, to focus on our self interest, to broadcast ourselves via social media.  Children are told to love themselves, that they are wonderful inside - to be "true to yourself"

Indeed using Google Ngrams he said that we can see that the use of "economic" Adam 1 type words is increasing ...
whilst the use of "moral" Adam 2 type words is decreasing ...

He also mentioned a survey which asked College students which they would choose - a life of fame or a life of sex.  Most picked fame

'80% of young people think they are really important' Hence increased desire for fame

David then went on to describe how he had looked at various people to see how to develop a moral life and the activities that would help - bravery, gratitude, kindness, humility

so he talked about Eisenhower ....

and how a childhood experience taught Eisenhower about acknowledging the anger he had inside - "the key confrontation is against yourself" - so he could manage his anger and so lead others

then David talked about Samuel Johnson - with his OCD tendancies

and pointed out that such confrontation of our inner flaws increases our empathy for others

David next talked about Francis Perkins and her commitment to work safety that arose from seeing a fire in a factory where people threw themselves out of upper storey windows and so fell to their death - to escape the intense heat.  He thought that Francis embraced a call within her - a vocation - what life was demanding of her

and the final example David gave was George Elliot  - and how love humbles, how it ploughs open hard ground, how it de-centres us from from ourselves 

We then turned to a Q&A - various quotes from the Q&A session are below

Dissatisfaction with neuroscience revolution brought to 'character'

David mentioned a reading list of 14 books he gives his students - this maybe close

"do you want to have a little impact over a large no. of people or do you want to have a larger impact over a few people? "

"but social media does encourage shallow short interactions rather than deeper longer ones"

"the message is the person - think of how Pope Francis is"

"Volunteering for worthy causes doesn't necessarily build character - that is confusing the external with the internal"

other posts on RSA, TED, other lectures, conferences, others blog posts
11 headlines on why we use facebook & social media - summarised out of a very rich buffer post by Courtney Seiteron  
18 top tips and thoughts about using #social media to enable #community source = an article by  Anatoliy Gruzd PhD & Caroline Haythornthwaite PhD 

Data Protection & Privacy - 8 issues from an International Conference
escape your social horizon limit & understand more - source = a blog post summarising the work of  Jeffrey A. Smith, Miller McPherson & Lynn Smith-Lovin
social media & death - 10 things you may not have thought about - #DORS conference

the development of the U2 spyplane - source = CIA historians Gregory Pedlow & Donald Welzenbach
considering culture and business process improvement  - source = an article by Schmiedel, Theresa, vom Brocke, Jan, & Recker 
ideas that may help you attract older volunteers - source = a paper by Brayley, Nadine, Obst, Patricia L., White, Katherine M., Lewis, Ioni M.,Warburton, Jeni, & Spencer, Nancy
physical factors which help people get better quicker - source = a paper by Salonen, Heidi & Morawska, Lidia 
a new approach to school and education - by Geetha Narayanan 
guiding principles on designing construction kits - by Mitchel Resnick & Brian Silverman
signs of overparenting - source = an article by Locke, Judith, Campbell, Marilyn A., & Kavanagh, David J
making ideas happen - source = a 99U conference

how to spot a liar - by pamela myer 
measuring happiness - source = talk by jim clifton, jim harter, ben leedle

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