Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Power of Virtue

He who sows virtue reaps glory. –Leonardo da Vinci
People seek power. Some do so covertly or subtly, others are all out front with it, but we all want influence somewhere. I believe that the power that builds people up, that moves families, and communities, businesses and institutions, in a positive and healthy direction is inexorably tied to moral excellence. Any other power, however well intentioned, inevitably beats people down, manipulating them “for their own good.” Office, title, brute strength or force, position: if power rests on any of these, the ability to inspire is severely limited, if not downright impossible.

Virtue is a wonder-working power, acting as a magnet that draws others into its circle of influence. Skills, base of knowledge, talent, and vision, are important for sure, but at the end of the day if these are not supported by moral excellence, there is a hole in the soul where true power is dribbling (or pouring!) out. Virtue inspires and gives credence and authority in ways that nothing else does.

I am not suggesting that skills, knowledge, and vision, are unimportant. You can be a “saint,” but if you don’t know what you are doing or talking about at home or in the office, you will be ignored: respectfully, of course!!

Keeping your word, being directed in word and deed by love and respect, maintaining an attitude of humility, having a generous soul, seeking to always have pure motives, being temperate, courageous, just, and prudent, these are the attributes that opens the minds and hearts of others to your influence. It is the virtuous person who “makes me want to be a better man,” who inspires me to listen to what he has to say, and engenders a deep trust in his leadership.

Confucius said, “He who exercises government by means of his virtue may be compared to the north polar star, which keeps its place and all the stars turn towards it.” Virtuous people act as North Stars that others use for guidance and inspiration. While titles and offices are helpful, virtuous leaders do not depend on such things for their ability to influence. Their virtue shines so brightly that, even without the title, people will follow their lead, looking to them for wisdom and hope.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2013

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