The moral obligations in our lives are not spelled out for us. That makes them easy to ignore or put off doing.
Duty is a topic that many people don’t talk about much anymore. Most of the time when people think about Duty they think about the things that they have been assigned to do. The idea that Duty is a job description or something we are expected to do at home is a limited definition of Duty.
In our world today, the idea of people doing their Duty needs to take us beyond those limits. We need to consider the moral obligations we have – to our teams, our families and to our society as a whole.
One of the ways we should start thinking about our moral obligations is to consider what we “ought to do.” With this idea in mind, our Duty suddenly expands. We start to realize that we fall short daily. I know for me, I ought to:
● Check in with a friend I haven’t heard from for a while.
● Listen to my wife when she needs to have a conversation even if I am tired.
● Call members of my team that work remotely on a regular basis.
● Finish the project I’ve left half done and laying around the house.
● Take time to help a stranger in the Walmart parking lot.
● Speak out about an injustice I see happen in front of my eyes.
The moral obligations in our lives are not spelled out for us. That makes them easy to ignore or put off doing. If you are like me, somewhere in the back of our minds we hope it will get taken care of someday or by someone else. But of course that rarely happens, causing a void in our teams, in our families and in our society. The lack of action allows issues to grow and get more unmanageable. We feel less in control and perhaps even more jaded about the world we live in. Duty is a habit, just like the other Habits of Character.
We define Duty as taking action based on both our assigned tasks and our moral obligations. Exercising our Duty requires us to exercise Courage, Humility, Integrity, Selflessness and Positivity. It is truly a test of all aspects of our Character.
● Courage: It often takes us overcoming our fear or initial discomfort to our Duty and do what we ought to do.
● Humility: To exercise Duty and take action often means we have to realize that at that moment, “it’s not about me”.
● Integrity: When we make a commitment, or start something, or see a need, it often means our convictions about right and wrong will be tested.
● Selflessness: Doing our Duty and putting someone else’s needs before our own rarely comes at a convenient time.
● Positivity: Exercising a good attitude when we are doing something we ought to do but don’t like doing is a window into our character.
So what should we do? How can people accepting this definition of Duty change the world we live in and give us a sense of control again? Doing our Duty - our moral obligations - can change our perspective and our impact on the world. When Leaders of Character exercise Duty and take care of their moral obligations, others tend to follow that example.
The few can influence the many. That is what Leaders of Character do. They use their influence to achieve moral or ethical goals. We may not make a huge impact on the world as whole, but our influence can inspire those around us to see their moral obligations differently and take action – do what they ought to do.
Dig Deep Questions:
● What is a moral obligation you can follow through on this week?
● What would happen in your team, your family or in your community if you began to take action based on what you ought to do?
Making a shift towards taking responsibility and living with Duty is a lifelong journey. We want to partner with you as you practice the habit of Duty daily, which is why we have created our Habits of Character Action Guides.
The Duty Action Guide offers you a month of daily, interactive training complete with a daily reading, dig deep questions, weekly processing guides and instructions on how to use the guide both individually and with your team. The Duty Action Guide is now available here.
We are behind you, championing for you, your teams and your organizations as you become the leader you wish you had. We want to come alongside you as you grow to confidently answer “yes” to the question, “Would you follow you?”