Character Corner: Ways of being

Character Corner is an ongoing series of commentaries furnished weekly by the U.S. Air Force Academy's Center for Character Development during the academic year. (U.S. Air Force illustration)

Character Corner is an ongoing series of commentaries furnished weekly by the U.S. Air Force Academy's Center for Character Development during the academic year. (U.S. Air Force illustration)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Leading and teaching are two prominent activities at the Air Force Academy,and they embrace some similar and very important ideals. Modeling a sense of being and authenticity is one of those common ideals. 

Parker Palmer, author of "The Courage to Teach," recently gave a speech in Denver exhorting teachers, like leaders, to model and encourage a sense of being and authenticity for students that leads to a life of meaning and purpose. He said,"You can't change the world unless you are about something. Be about something. His encouragement to "be about something" applies to us as leaders and teachers and to our students and subordinates as well. 

Who are you? It's important to decide who we are and to help our students and subordinates to find their own identities. As we endeavor to develop leaders of character here, we use a "Be, Know, Do" framework, that, importantly, begins with "Be." What and who we are determines what we will do.Too often, we focus our leadership and teaching on the things one should do. But it is who we choose to be -- our being -- that remains stable. Additionally, we cannot teach all the do's; but a consistent "be" provides a stable guiding influence. 

In essence, our identity gives us strength individually and as a community. Living in a way that's consistent with a chosen identity establishes an ethos of steadfast resolve and authentic living that's noticed by those around us.As we lead, teach, or mentor others, we can set the example.We can model our own identity, ethos,or spirit and can encourage others to find their own identity and to live consistently and authentically within that identity.

Tune into KAFA 97.7 FM for "Character Matters" Wednesdays during the academic year at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Mountain Time. You can also listen on iTunes or at http://www.usafa.org/KAFA.aspx.