I read a fantastic article titled ‘We’re busy doing nothing, and all the poorer for it’, written by Sam de Brito in the Sydney Morning Herald (you can check out Sam’s blog here).
If you’ve attended one of my conference presentations, read my book, or have been following my blog posts for a while, you’ll realise I’m a fan of much of what Aristotle taught us – especially about the importance of Character!
Recreation Time vs Leisure Time
In Sam’s article, he referred to what Aristotle meant by the importance of us all having ‘leisure time’… that being time devoted to the ‘development of one’s character and reason’.
What I particularly liked about what Sam had to say, was that we Australians tend to focus on ‘recreation time’ and not ‘leisure time’, and that we tend to prefer to just chill out rather than invest in reflecting on our character.
As I’ve been reflecting on this, I am convinced that this is well worth pursuing a little broader, and to point out my unwavering belief that character matters, and it matters not from a ‘do gooder’ point of view, but from the point of view that the very fabric of our society depends on it.
Character, Parents, Teachers and Leaders in Society and Business
For any of us who are parents, it is our own moral duty to provide an environment where our children can grow up understanding what it means to be a person of ‘good character’. That means we each need to have the discipline to invest some of our recreational time as leisure time to reflect on our own truth, our own character and the extent to which we are providing the role models our children need for us to be.
I wonder what length of time on a daily or weekly basis those of us who are in leadership positions in our society are investing in personal reflection on how we are living up to being the person of good character that our society needs?
What time do our children’s teachers invest in reflecting on their personal character and the direct impact their actions and behaviours are having on the children in their care? What time do our corporate leaders invest in reflecting on their personal character and the direct impact their actions and behaviours are having on their employees on an individual and collective basis?
But there’s a problem I see in this idea that we each need to be reflecting on one’s character and asking the serious questions about what it means to be a person of good character, and what is genuinely required of us to practically live with an intention to make a difference (not necessarily on a large scale, but a difference for ourselves and those within our own immediate world at least).
And the problem is that it’s too easy for us to be convinced otherwise. It’s easier to sit in front of a TV and just space out rather than think deeply about who we are and what we truly represent to the world.
The problem with what’s easy, is that it’s a quick path to apathy, and one thing that we can’t afford to be apathetic about is how our actions and our behaviours are demonstrated minute by minute, day by day, for all of the people closest to us, to see.
Our character, our intention, our actions and our results, over time, will either promote or expose us.
If we are to continue to strive to build and maintain a society we are all proud to live in, it will start with each of us investing some of our leisure time on reflecting who we are and who we need to be, to be able to do what we need to do, individually and collectively to live more happy, flourishing and prosperous lives.