A group of Wake Foresters gathered over dinner in Houston, Texas, on March 22, 2018, to discuss Leadership & Character.

Overview and highlights of our Call to Conversation:

Leadership and character are sometimes easier to spot than others, but everyone at the table had a wonderful story to share about a time they saw leadership and character in action. Character can be exhibited by your child standing up for what’s right, a sports figure, a community, a local businessman, a family friend, a family member, or someone from college. Some of the themes/concepts that came from the conversation include: role models and mentors, the effect of technology, connectivity, and grace. But perhaps the most common theme is the community and pride everyone had in their local community following Hurricane Harvey.

Many shared stories of local figures or unsung heroes that positively impacted others during the aftermath. Crisis creates community. If everyone can save one person, think about how that affects the greater good. Empathy is integral to guiding us along the path of leadership and character. As one participant related, you go to church and feel empowered when you leave, but character is taking that with you out into the world. Another participant recommends The Power of Moments, discussing the craving we all have for connectivity.

A question we all considered during dinner: why is it hard to trust? Is it because people let you down and you put your guard up? Is it because of anonymity as a danger? Is it because social media today makes everything permanently public? One participant described social media as an inauthentic Christmas card. Another question we thought about: can you teach character? Some think you can by being a “man for others.” Some think you can’t teach it but you can reinforce it. It’s very powerful to realize the weight of our actions: we are always someone’s teacher in any given moment. The final question we considered is: where did you learn? From family? From your university? From work experiences? At the end of the day, we need to remind ourselves that character is the tree, while reputation is simply the shadow.