Saturday, May 20, 2006

Making Character Steps

Making Character Steps

Now that the league season has ended, It's going to be a quiet Saturday evening with no soccer to look forward to. Even though I only watch the English Premiership matches on TV ocassionally, I do look forward to the excitement of these weekend matches and try to follow them in real-time over the Net, while working on my computer.

I'm quite happy with Liverpool's season which finished beautifully with another piece of silverware--the FA Cup. Last year's Champions League miracle in Instanbul, was matched by an equally heart-stopping final where the Reds scored a dramatic last minute equalizer to level the score at 3-3, and then proceeding to defeat West Ham in penalty kicks.

What a sweet end to a wonderful season where Liverpool managed to improve on its league position,--moving to within nine points of champions Chelsea--and finishing third behind Manchester United, from a disappointing fifth in the previous season. Now, let's look forward to World Cup 2006 Germany, kicking off in 19 days!

Six months have almost come and gone now. With the month-long madness of the World Cup coming up, this will feel like a very short year indeed. The quest for balance in my life is increasingly becoming a trying one. Blogging has been relegated to a very low prioritiy these days. But I will remain steadfast to my task, as I consider these quiet moments of blogging an important part of my spiritual life.

Why is spirituality important in one's life?

In his books, Dr Stephen Covey talks about the "personality ethic" and the "character ethic", which form the two main categories of success theories in the self-improvement literature of the past 200 years. Advocates of the personality ethic claim that there are certain external skills and techniques that one can learn to become successful. However this often produce individuals who are manipulative, selfishly aggressive and lacking in compassion.

I believe in the character ethic. By strengthening one's character, and allowing oneself to be guided by morally sound principles, one can still prosper in this seemingly materialistic world. This is where spirituality comes in. Greed and selfishness could bring one temporary success and riches, but these are not firm foundations to build your life on.

When one is spiritually-guided, one is always self-examining one's behaviour: Am I guided by greed? Am I feeding on anger or fear? One proceeds patiently, step by step, ever-cautious of the selfish promptings of the ego. Still one does fall occassionally, but one who has a firm spiritual foundation always possesses the inner strength to pull oneself up again.

A person of character does not waste time worrying too much about the future. He does what is immediately demanded of him, with sincerity, dilligence and conviction. He believes that as long as he does it right, he will grow from strength to strength. One foundation stone is built on top of another and suddenly, the shape of a cathedral emerges before his eyes.

A marathon runner or a mountain climber learns to focus his mind on the next step ahead. All his energy and focus is marshalled towards one single task: lifting one foot and putting it in front of the other, again and again. If he keeps on thinking of the enormity of the task ahead, he'll lose heart and falter.

Remember: The next step is always something doable. Do that first and do that right. That's all you need to do now!