Written 14 years ago, the column below by journalist George Will makes an important distinction between "values" and "virtues".
"Values are an equal-opportunity business: They are mere choices. Virtues are habits, difficult to develop and therefore not equally accessible to all."
Will's remarks were made within the context of politics and education but they apply as well to business and especially to financial planning, executive coaching, and leadership training. It is common to hear talk of "values-based" planning, education, or training. It is far less common to hear of "virtues-based" anything. I suspect that it's because of George Will's observation that ours is a non-judgmental age where "one person's values are as good as another's."
When I first became CEO of Empowered Wealth, we used to describe our clients as successful entrepreneurs who love their family and want to make an impact in the world. By that standard (or those values), wouldn't the fictional Michael Corleone from The Godfather have qualified as a potential client? Yet, if we apply the virtues embraced by any of the major religions or ancient philosophies in the world, would we not conclude that Michael Corleone lacked acceptable virtues?
From this perspective, what, then, might "virtues-based" planning, coaching, or training look like?
George Will Jewish World ReviewMay 25, 2000 / 20 Iyar, 5760
Forget Values, Let’s Talk Virtues
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