In my last posting, I briefly introduced my current thinking regarding Greenleaf’s Legacy and offered three definitions and then briefly focused on ‘Consciousness.’ Today I will focus on ‘Character.’ As a reminder, here are the three definitions that help inform my current thinking.
Consciousness = the state of being aware while seeking to understand one’s own needs, attitudes, behavior, values, beliefs, perceptions in order to be open to understanding others’ needs, attitudes, behavior, values, beliefs, perceptions.
Character = the moral and ethical traits and principles that form the individual nature of a person [e.g. trustworthiness, caring, response-ability/responsibility, integrity, respect — the golden rule, open-mindedness, etc.]
Conduct = personal behavior; a way of acting; a way of ‘managing’ one’s self.
What are some of the ‘moral and ethical traits and principles that form’ the ‘nature’ of the servant? Regarding ‘nature’ one can be a servant via ‘first nature’ or ‘second nature.’ ‘First nature’ means that when one is born, ‘servant’ is in his or her nature [or ‘hard-wiring’ or ‘potential’] and that the person’s ‘charge’ is to develop his or her ‘natural’ capacity as servant.
For the rest of us (the majority of us?), we come to be a servant via ‘second nature.’ Greenleaf suggests that this requires ‘rigorous discipline’ on our part. We must be intentional and purpose-full when it comes to building our capacity to be servants.
At some point during this process we will integrate what we practice such that what we integrate becomes ‘second nature’ to us. It is like riding a bicycle. We practice and practice and practice, we fall down, skin our knees and elbows, get back on the bike and practice some more. Eventually, riding the bike becomes second nature to us. This means that I might not get on a bike for years and then one day I decide to get on a bike and if I don’t have an organic or emotional limitation I will, very quickly, ride the bike with ease [it has, indeed, become second nature to me]. So, given this, let us return to the question: ‘What are some of the moral and ethical traits and principles that form the nature of the servant?’
Trait = a distinguishing characteristic of one’s personal nature
Principle = a personal basis of conduct; a guiding sense of the obligations of right conduct
Traits: As I reflect upon Greenleaf’s writings — which includes his lived-experience and his good thinking — some of the characteristics that distinguish the servant include (but are not limited to) the following: Curiosity, Open-Mindedness, Love of Learning, Perspective, Being Response-able/Responsible, Growth-supporting [holistic growth — Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Spiritual], Reflective, One is always searching [the search, not the destination, is what is important], Knows ‘self’ — Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? Why am I going there? What motivates me? What are my Virtues? What are my Vices? When the pressure is on, which Virtue and which Vice do I ‘naturally’ demonstrate?
Principles: Some of the principles that form the basis for the servant’s conduct include (but are not limited to) the following: Integrity, Hope, Faithfulness, Trustworthiness, Respect for self and for others, Friendship, Love, To Listen intently and receptively in order, first, to understand, To Reflect upon and learn from life-experiences, Forgiveness [seeking and offering], Trust ‘entheos’ — the spirit that sustains me, Being ‘authentic,’ Being ‘vulnerable.’
Become the change you want to see in the world. –Gandhi