“A man of personality can formulate ideals, but only a man of character can achieve them.” ~Herbert Read …
It is one thing to hold ideals that you stand for, but it is something entirely different to live them passionately in one’s life. That is what Herbert is telling us here… that anyone can talk the talk, but only a “man of character” will also walk the walk. Inversely, we can infer that one’s character cannot be obtained by the simple fact that one holds ideals, nor can it be obtained through fame, fortune, or power–one’s character can only be obtained through a life lived nobly, honorably, and righteously.
Formulating ideals and then achieving them is applicable to each one of us, and in every facet of our lives. I can have an ideal of compassion for my neighbors, and then spend time visiting others, caring for them and their concerns, and showing them charity and love. I can have an ideal of humility, and I can seek no praise or notoriety for the goodness that I do.
Nevertheless, having good ideals is only half the battle. We must also live them, for they are what ultimately define us when all is said and done–even more so than our words, actions, and thoughts. Honesty, courage, patience, gratitude, integrity, commitment, love… they all are just words unless we make them a part of who we are. As Phyllis Christine Cast wrote, “You can’t win integrity and honor from games. You can only earn them from living a life dedicated to those ideals.”
Where are you going in life? What are your guides? Do you feel that your journey will someday bring you where you would like to be? The beauty of it is that we are the captains of our ships, and we can actively choose to steer them wherever we like, at any moment in our lives.
Embrace your ideals throughout the day.
Questions to consider:
How do you define your ideals? What are a few of your most important ones?
In what ways do you acheive your ideals? In what ways could you improve?
How might our ideals change over time? Why?
For further thought:
“Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.” ~Samuel Ullman