NOW, first things first:
- Character: “The particular combination of qualities in a person…that makes them different from others”
- Quest: “A long search for something that is difficult to find, or an attempt to achieve something difficult”
These definitions (provided courtesy of the Cambridge Dictionary) indicate both the meaning and purpose of this blog. Simmering this down to a simple mission statement we’ll say the purpose of this blog is:
“To pursue the highest principles, qualities and values for achieving excellence, endeavor towards self-mastery and aspire towards our incredible human potential.”
My name is Michael Bowers and I have created the Character-Quest Project with a duel purpose in mind. First, it is a place for me to formally practice and refine my skills as a writer and teacher. Secondly however, it is a public journal whose ongoing theme will focus on ways to hone and refine ourselves as human beings. In the weeks to come you will find articles, commentaries, notes, observations and ruminations that will focus on the core principles that it takes to become good parents, teachers, managers, leaders or examples in our communities…whatever role we have in life. In short, (to paraphrase Thomas Crum) this blog is about making our life’s work…into a work of art.
Esse quam videri
Above is North Carolina’s state motto which means “To BE rather than to SEEM”. It is a phrase that is all about having personal integrity…aka Character. Our society places too much emphasis on IMAGE and not enough on substance. Politicians, corporate executives and celebrities spend so much time and money trying to “look good” to their voters, investors and to the general public. But how many times have we discovered that these “idols” are not really living the happy, glamorous life that they would have us believe? Many of them are unhappy, unfulfilled and miserable with broken marriages, disjointed families, dependency problems and (when the money runs out) loneliness.
But wait! Public figures and celebrities are easy targets. It’s easy to demonize say, the pro-athlete for taking steroids because of the obvious “bad example” that it sets for our kids. However, it’s much harder for us to address our own “elephants”. What kind of habits do we have? What do we eat or drink and how much? How do we use our language? Handle stress? Manage our Finances? Does our daily life reflect the example of good, honest hard work and self-discipline? Our children need their REAL-life heroes “to BE rather than to SEEM” or they will aimlessly build their dreams on eroding sand! They need role-models who can show them not only how to live with honor and integrity but also how to overcome life’s challenges while retaining those same qualities! To do that we as leaders must have those things already cultivated in our own lives!
Our world today is in CRISIS! It’s deficient of a vital super-nutrient: Strong Balanced Character. And that crisis extends to ALL levels—most especially to our role models and leaders which includes parents, teachers, management, little league coaches all the way up to our elected officials. Our leaders are our standard-bearers! When they provide vision for us, coach us and inspire us then we collectively become capable of doing absolutely incredible things. However, when they lack the knowledge, skills or moral compass to do what is right simply because it is right then we ultimately will suffer defeat!
The Quest Begins…
I invite you to go on a QUEST with me. It’s not a quest to change the world but rather to change ourselves. We’ll call it a “Character-Quest” because it will be about BEING or BECOMING examples of substance and integrity in everything we do…striving to live a life of pure excellence! And you know what? I’m a firm believer that if we first concentrate on overcoming our own problems then we naturally gain needed leverage for helping others with theirs.
By definition a quest is a journey that is long and perilous…sometimes even dangerous. And our “Character Quest” definitely will be. We’re about to push our most sacred boundaries outward. We’re about to ‘BE’-come better parents, students, teachers, leaders, sons, daughters and members of our communities. And we’ll do this by first BUILDING the courage and DEVELOPING the internal fortitude to become better individuals. Our new resolve will help us to multiply and deal wisely with the talents we’ve been given in this life rather than to bury them under a mountain of excuses.
No Short Cut
So come on and gear up! In the weeks to come we’re going to make principles written in the above mission statement our very own! Together we’re going to explore the path less taken! Along the way we’ll journey through caverns of mirrors and perhaps truly “see” ourselves for the first time. We’ll climb steep, treacherous walls of razor sharp rocks because in this life it is impossible to change “altitudes” without resistance. There’ll be un-marked forks in the road, washed-out bridges and probably bandits lying in wait for us along the way. And what’s more, it will take a long, long time to get to the end…but as operatic superstar Beverly Sills once said “There are no short cuts to any place worth going.”
But at last, with perseverance we’ll emerge into pristine sunlit meadows on the east face of High Character. And then everything will be different—because WE’LL be different. We’ll be genuinely confident, humble, grounded, joyful and truly wise. What happens then? Well, then we can light the beacon for those who will come along after us…and guess what?—we’ll be fully qualified then to do so. So, let’s begin…