by Elise Keitz
We find ourselves in a unique moment for defining who we will be next, as individuals and as a society. When perhaps we were drowning in professional commitments, running errands, and social obligations, we were forcefully thrust from the streams of living on autopilot in March 2020. Our dry landscape was manifest in our newly empty schedules.
With the reopening of our places of leisure, worship, and work on the horizon, now is the time to ask; what will you choose to put back into your life? Perhaps sooner rather than later, the world will demand us to demonstrate what lessons, if any, have been learned. What priorities have shifted? What values stood to guide you through?
On February 18, the Severn Leadership Group (SLG) hosted a virtual global mixer for an evening of rich community discussion. During the evening, a small group discussed the above questions. The SLG is actively considering its role in the new order of leadership and followership in a post-pandemic world.
How could one not ask the big questions when 2020 tested us in more ways than could have been imagined?
It removed the distractions we insulated ourselves with and left time for reflection, both of the self and society at large. In that way, could this testing have been an unsolicited form of polishing? Perhaps the past year has been polishing the grime away to better allow the light of our character to shine through.
One of the discussion members declared that now is the time for “a renaissance of character.” A renaissance of character! What a powerful idea. An invitation for all to welcome home the portions of ourselves we have been giving away without realizing it.
The Severn Leadership Group’s curriculum centers around one’s character (the core) and offers a framework of the essential virtues of character: Love, Integrity, Truth, Excellence, and Relationships. SLG believes all of these virtues emerge through courage, which is the virtue that activates all others. This framework equips us to approach the introspection of our character.
The SLG Difference Makers book reads, “If we are inner-driven with a sense of who we are, what we are about, then there is an inner wholeness that gives us the courage to be a leader and follower, confident and humble, demanding and empathetic, able to listen and challenge.” The renaissance of character will separate those seeking inner wholeness from those who prioritize the appearance of outer wholeness.
When your moral compass has been polished enough to be read, you inspire others to hold their compasses high. We then serve others before ourselves, and others begin to do the same. Character triumphs over convenience and compromise. May you reflect on which aspects of your character are shining out onto the world and take any necessary steps to correct course now. And once enough of us have done this work, what can come from the rise of character will be immeasurable.
“You can blow out a candle, But you can’t blow out a fire, Once the flames begin to catch, The wind will blow it higher.” – Peter Gabriel.