As the host of the podcast, Focus on WHY, I hold the privilege of speaking with many inspiring individuals who share their stories and insights on living a purposeful and fulfilling life. One common thread that I have noticed in these conversations is the importance of having a strong moral compass.
Morals and values are the principles that guide your behaviour and decision-making. They are the foundation of your character and determine the type of person you are. When you live in alignment with your morals, beliefs and values, you feel a strong sense of purpose and fulfilment. When you stray from them or sacrifice your morals or values to please others, you may experience feelings of guilt, regret, emptiness, dissatisfaction, a lack of fulfilment or a general sense of unhappiness.
In today’s society, you are constantly bombarded with messages from the media, advertisements and social media all telling you how you should look, act and think. It is therefore easy to lose sight of your own morals and values or to perhaps not recognise the difference between those which are really your own and those which are projected onto you as societal norms. Reflecting on what is important to you and what you believe in will highlight your own morals.
In my latest podcast episode 335 Character Development with Sebastian Bates, initially I thought we would be focusing on martial arts and self-defence. In fact the focus shifted quickly to the importance of moral education and character development in children as Sebastian spoke of the 3Cs, confidence, conduct and concentration, which are at the foundation of his martial arts organisation, Warrior Academy.
“Confidence, for me, is one of the most important things that we can give our children. Confidence is basically empowerment over decisions and life choices.”
Sebastian explained that the history of martial arts “was less about self-defence and more about a moral education” so although he built his organisation around martial arts, his work “wasn't about martial arts, it was about character’.
“If we could work with these same young men when they were much, much younger and plant the seeds that had been planted in my mind as a young martial artist, it could change the course and direction of their lives completely.”
Sebastian spoke of discipline, respect and self-control and the essential role character development plays in a child's upbringing as it shapes their life in numerous ways. The development of character in children is important because it lays the foundation for how they will interact with the world around them as well as how they will cope with challenges and difficulties they may face throughout their lives.
Children with a strong character are more likely to have high self-esteem and confidence, develop resilience with the ability to bounce back from challenges and setbacks and will be better equipped to cope with stress. They will demonstrate traits such as empathy, compassion and respect and foster strong leadership qualities with better communication and problem-solving skills.
A moral education is the process of imparting moral values, principles and virtues to individuals in a systematic and deliberate manner. The goal is to develop your character and integrity so that you are able to make ethical and responsible decisions essential for creating a just and fair society and to help you live a fulfilling and meaningful life.
It is much more than that though. A moral education will help you to think critically and reflectively about ethical issues and dilemmas to aid your understanding of the complexity of ethical decision-making, developing the necessary skills to analyse and evaluate moral issues from different perspectives. It also helps develop a sense of responsibility towards yourself and others and to recognise the impact of your actions on the world around you.
Each generation commits to take on the responsibility of ensuring that moral principles are passed on to the next generation. One of my favourite books since I was a child is Aesop’s Fables. Many of my own morals and values originated from these simple yet powerful moral lessons. For thousands of years, morals have been passed down from generation to generation through storytelling, religious teachings, cultural and sports practices.
Martial arts schools have been an excellent way to learn and develop moral values and ethics as they place a strong emphasis on character development and instil positive values in their students. Respect, discipline, responsibility, perseverance, integrity and empathy feature as shared core values. All essential for personal growth and success and which extend way beyond martial arts training into life. When Sebastian speaks of the importance of character development, there are life and business lessons which can be learned and applied across all ages.
Reflect on your own moral principles and how you came to acquire them. Do they align with your own values and beliefs? Reflect on whether your morals are truly yours and if they are serving you.
Remember it is never too late to be who you might have been…
Focus on Morals!
ACTION POINT - Reflect on whether your morals are truly yours!