"It's not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me." With all due respect to Batman, who we are underneath defines what we do, which in turn defines us.
The last two weeks, we have examined the heroic arts of the Hero's Question and the Heart of Courage. This week is the third of a six part series that will assist you in developing the necessary skills to be somebody who acts on her or his personal and organizational values. A hero. Zeno Franco and Philip Zimbardo identified the key arts necessary to nurture “Heroes-in-Waiting”. They are: Question, Courage, Strength, Speed, Sacrifice, and Team. Today, we focus on Strength.
The strength you need to act on your values obviously is not the type of strength you'll find at your local Gold's Gym or Lifetime Fitness. (There goes my opportunity for corporate sponsorship.) The strength you need is deep within you, and the only training you can do to build that strength is mastering your past, your present, and your future.
What does it mean to be a master of your past, your present, and your future? To be this type of master, you have to build a foundation of your experiences and values, to be grounded in the person you want to be, and to be committed to your personal goals.
Past - You have a strong identity, including all of the experiences and values deep within you. As Bill Shore said in the Cathedral Within, "A prerequisite of building out and up is to begin by digging down deep and within." The towers of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. are 98 feet above ground, but 324 feet total. More than two-thirds of their strength is "down deep and within". Your core values are equally important.
Present - To make the best choices, you have to know your options. Conventional wisdom is that you may be dealt a particular hand in life, but how you play that hand is up to you. If you choose to focus on only one way to play, you may not make the best choice.
Future - You have a focus on your personal goals, and you're aware of choices that may prohibit you from reaching those goals. If you make a particular choice in the present, how does that choice get you closer to your goals? Or how does that choice take you farther from your goals? And remember, ... inaction also is a choice.
In Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne is consumed by anger and guilt following his parents' murders. He joins and trains with the League of Shadows, in order to learn to act on his value of justice. His training culminates when Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson) asks Wayne to execute a farmer who had murdered his neighbor and stolen his neighbor's land.
It is at that time that Wayne masters his past, his present, and his future. Wayne calls upon his value of compassion, and tells Ducard that compassion is what separates him from those he pursues. He examines his options, in first attempting to convince Ducard to choose a new path and then looking for a way out. Lastly, he commits to his goal of bringing justice to Gotham, without sacrificing his personal values.
By mastering past, present, and future, Bruce Wayne developed the necessary strength to be a hero.
CALL TO ACTION: What are your values? You can choose to use this Values Exercise to help you identify your core, foundational values. The exercise contains 27 values, which may or may not reflect yours. Feel free to add to the list if you don't see some of your values.
Begin by crossing off your five least important values. Then, cross off five more. Continue the process until you have only seven remaining. Make note of your seven most important values. Then, cross off four more, and make note of your three most important values.
Take your top seven and top three lists and talk with your family, your clergy, your coaches, your teachers, etc. Ask them if they agree with your choices, and how you can continue to demonstrate those values.