Monday, March 21, 2005

When all is stripped away...

This morning I had breakfast with some buddies. We have been going through a book called Tender Warrior by Stu Weber. The chapter we happened to be on today used the Book of Job as an example of dealing with challenges in life. From the Christian perspective the book demonstrates how Job stood firm in his faith as all his worldly possessions and family were stripped away. This broke off into a discussion about the worth of a man (person).

What is it that makes us "valuable?" We often equate our worth with what we do or what we own. It might also center around what we control (power). Job lost all of these things. All he was left with was a nagging wife. Was Job still worth anything?

This got me thinking about what I tell my students that makes them valuable. We can safely assume that there will always be smarter people, richer people, more powerful people. We have probably all known these people but some were not "valuable" in our current concept. What are you left with when you have nothing left, from the worldly point of view. I tell my students that the values, traits, disciplines they learn and that become part of what they are gives them value.

I am sure we have all heard about employers that are looking to hire someone who has a bachelor's degree. It doesn't seem to matter, to these employers, what that degree is in. What are they looking for? What are they getting? They are using completion of a degree as a sign that this individual can finish something. It shows they can meet deadlines. It shows that they can study and learn, retain information. It probably also means they can think critically and problem solve (at least we hope so). This also explains why someone from one "industry" can move to another unrelated "industry." What do they take with them? It certainly isn't knowledge about the new "industry."

I really think the answer to all these rhetorical questions is character traits. What Job was left with was his faith, loyalty, perseverance, etc. These are as valuable as knowledge. I don't believe this post to be contrary to my last post regarding Love the Killer App. I think Tim Sanders gets to these "characteristics" when he discusses compassion. These character traits are how we want to be treated and therefore should be how we treat other (see Golden Rule - Ask your mother).

Take home message - Build an indepth knowledge on a foundation of strong positive character and you end up with a valuable citizen. Isn't this what we need today after all? Take care.

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