My wife and I have been reading a book together as part of our own efforts to work on our relationship. The book is Words Can Change Your Brain by Newberg and Andrew. In it the authors make the observation that one of the questions we should be asking about and that is: “What is my greatest virtue?” I found it interesting personally as I have been looking at the issues of what makes a virtue important without faith in a religion? For me the Nine Noble Virtues of Asatru (NNV) have become my code and part of my philosophy of life. I meditate on them often and so what the book was teaching and what I as doing meshed quickly. It also changed my thinking regarding goals and how to set them.
I have often set my goals based on what roles I wanted to achieve. I guess now see this a kind of chasing titles. I am not sure this is what I want for my life as often when a title is achieved ‘then what’? It becomes a constant struggle to redefine goals. Not that I don’t want to achieve tangible results but it seems that virtue would drive a person far more than roles as they have to be worked on every day to either grow them or maintain them. Once a goal is achieved with virtues as their guide, I can see how one then could set new goals far more quickly because the virtue would provide sight and insight into what is next. The next goal becomes much more self evident when you use virtue instead of roles as your guide to setting them in my current thinking.
So I have dropped my roles as being my guide to setting my goals or even combining virtues with goals like I did recently. What I want now is nine goals set by the NNV. It’s not that my roles won’t come into the discussion but now each virtue can in a sense touch all of the things I am rather than just one thing.
My foundational virtues of the nine are Honor, Courage and Truth. They are foundational in my mind because they touch all aspects of life. They guide me in all decisions. This includes the goals I set. I am going to take each virtue every week and reflect on it for that week and comment on progress toward a goal for that virtue which I will set here in this first few posts of A Skald’s Life. Let’s begin.
“Honor is the feeling of inner value and worth from which one knows that one is noble of being, and the desire to show respect for this quality when it is found in the world”
I suppose Honor is more popularly defined as that feeling of self-worth. I find honor to be an internal thing and the hardest virtue of them all. Mostly I look at it as the ability to look in the mirror and be proud of who you are, but also maintain humility in the fact you can recognize honor in others. In my life the first part is a struggle. I have made some very bad decisions this year and I am a man trying to get back on his feet as far as humble pride in himself.
If there is a goal here it is to look at my life more positively. To see that there is still much I can do that is right and that this can lead me back to a feeling like I have value to myself and that others value me as well. Honor is the hardest but also the most necessary of the virtues.
“Courage is the bravery to do what is right always.”
The real trick of this virtue is first knowing what the right thing to do is and then secondly doing it. I have been accused of being a coward at times but mostly I look at it as having the courage to walk away from a bad situation too. I do question this at times but in truth an enemy rarely respects your courage even when you show it. Courage is for conflicts and they are sometimes good things if faced bravely. That said some conflicts cannot be won and you must have the courage with yourself to face that as well. It takes courage sometimes to realize if a battle cannot be won, then the brave thing to do is not fight it. Live to fight another day when the odds are more in your favor. Timing. Knowing when to be courageous is also important.
My goal here is pretty simple: When I know the right thing to do, I do it. Despite what I said above, my problem is to over think things instead of acting on my first instincts as to what is right. Once you know the right thing to do and when to do it, then act. That’s the goal here for me.
“Truth is the willingness to be honest and to say what one knows to be true and right. It is often better to not say anything at all if one cannot be honest.”
People have called me a liar too. I would say; however, I have probably been more committed to this virtue than I ever was as a Christian. The problem with being a minister is you find yourself telling lies very quickly if you want to protect your reputation as well as the reputation of those under your care. Facing the truth is not something church people actually do very well. Particularly when comparing themselves to the ethical standards of Scriptures. Now, I don’t really have any other issue other than discovering what is true. People may not accept this from me, but I have been painfully truthful far more since I gave up my faith than when I was in it. My goal here is to continue to improve and face the truth even about the most difficult things – especially myself.
My goal is here is to be the one who pursues truth and stands with it regardless of where it might take him. This is my pilgrimage – knowledge, wisdom and truth – finding them and living by them,
The real problem with these goals is that they are hard to measure and are not specific. That is however why they are also foundational as they really reflect attitudes and states of character I want to have at all times. The other virtues will probably create more specific and measurable goals but these three are about every thought, feeling and decision.
- Be positive about my future
- Act with courage at the right time
- Pursue knowledge, wisdom and truth at all times
Until the Business Virtues,
The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.