Friday, March 02, 2007

integrity and meaning

In the last week, I've read two really good books.

The first one was integrity: the courage to meet the demands of reality, by Henry Cloud. From years of coaching and consulting, he has come to the realization that while competency is definitely important if a person is going to achieve any level of success, that without character, competency won't cut it. He demonstrates how very competent individuals who lack character will eventually sabotage everything that they have worked for. He says that strong character goes far beyond merely "not screwing things up" by being dishonest or sexually unfaithful.

The book is built on an outline of six aspects of strong character. The kind of character he is describing:
1. Creates and maintains trust
2. Is able to see and face reality
3. Works in a way that brings results
4. Embraces negative realities and solves them
5. Causes growth and increase
6. Achieves transcendence and meaning in life (xii).

This book has a lot of good stuff in it. I read it fairly fast, realizing that I could spend a year studying it. I commend it to you as containing vital information, but not necessarily as an easy read. However, even if you read it quickly, the big picture that he paints of character which "meets the demands of reality" (p.24) will be useful for the rest of your life.

The second book that I read was Man's Search for Meaning. I've heard about this classic little book by Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl for years, and finally got around to reading it yesterday.

This was a tremendously moving retelling of Frankl's concentration camp experience, but went on to describe the realizations about finding meaning in life as a result of those experiences. As a psychiatrist, Frankl describes what he feels was lacking in Freud's psychoanalytical approach, which seemed to mainly focus on dissecting and dealing with the past.

He puts forth a new approach, termed logotherapy, which focuses on helping a person finding a transcendent meaning in his life which is unique to him and which goes beyond self-actualization. I'm still unpacking this book and will be for a long time. A good, powerful, quick read.

No comments: