As we enter a new year, it’s common to reflect on the past year, look forward and set goals that will move us closer to a vision we have for our life, our career, relationships, finances and health.
This year, let me propose something different. Start with this simple but profound question: What is the lens through which you view your life and enter the world? Nothing matters more to the outcome of your life than a clear, honest and full understanding of your lens.
I’ve posed this question to hundreds of people. The answers are amazing—a Jew, a single mother, a veteran, a father, a black woman, an optimist. The list is long. In David Brooks’ last book, The Road to Character, he starts off with this passage.
“Recently I’ve been thinking about the difference between the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the ones you list on your résumé, the skills that you bring to the job market and that contribute to external success. The eulogy virtues are deeper. They’re the virtues that get talked about at your funeral, the ones that exist at the core of your being—whether you are kind, brave, honest or faithful; what kind of relationships you formed. Most of us would say that the eulogy virtues are more important than the résumé virtues, but I confess that for long stretches of my life I’ve spent more time thinking about the latter than the former. Our education system is certainly oriented around the résumé virtues more than the eulogy ones. Public conversation is, too—the self-help tips in magazines, the nonfiction bestsellers. Most of us have clearer strategies for how to achieve career success than we do for how to develop a profound character.”
This really hit home with me. I think we’re at our best when our personal and professional lives are one—congruent, aligned and connected. We spend too much time at work working on our résumé virtues that often crowd out the eulogy virtues. What if we made our eulogy virtues shine through every day? What if we made the virtues that are the core of our character the lens through which we enter the world?
What if we entered through the lens of honesty, patience, courage and kindness, for example? What if we approached every interaction, objective, project, performance review, challenge and opportunity through our eulogy virtues?
What’s the lens through which you will enter this new year?
For me, I’m still thinking. It’s a big question, and I want to get it right. I’d like to hear from you; let me know what lens is going to work for you.