Call to Conversation gathering over dinner in San Francisco on December 6, 2017.

A group of Wake Foresters gathered over dinner in San Francisco on December 6, 2017, to discuss leadership and character.

Leadership and character are sometimes difficult to spot, but we each had a delightful story to share about a time we saw leadership and character in action. Character can be exhibited by a role model in Africa, a family member, a leader at work, a teacher or a sports figure. Character is doing the right thing because it’s right, not for recognition. Character is being an “upstander,” not a bystander. Leadership is not saying, but doing. Leadership is inspiring and helping others develop their own character. Some of the key words from the night include empathy, mentorship, joy, passion, belief, hope, and integrity.

It’s sometimes easy to take for granted that we wouldn’t be where we are without the character and leadership of others that came before us. In our society, so much is done in a visual way that the idea of someone doing something noble when no one is looking can seem old-fashioned. Every part of our day is now documented, and doing the right thing is not always convenient as we’re surrounded by social media distractions.

While it’s easy to get trapped in the Bay Area community bubble and feel a sense of entitlement, the Wake Forest community encourages and inspires students to embody the key words that dominated our discussion. Strong work ethic is an integral part of character, as is feeling proud of a cause. There is honor in good work and commitment can easily seem lost.

Some questions from the evening for us all to reflect on: How do we create a culture of inclusion? Do our students have a value system and is that inherited from parents? How do we keep Pro Humanitate aligned not just with service, but with character? How do we appropriately address the increasing drinking culture, through our re-imagined first year experience?