The Road to Character
By David Brooks
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This book has 5 recommendations
Ryan Holiday (Founder/Brass Check)To balance out that depressing book, I highly recommend David Brooks’ The Road To Character, Sebastian Junger’s Tribe and Chuck Klosterman’s What If We’re Wrong.
Indra Nooyi (CEO/PepsiCo)Beyond provoking valuable self-reflection and introspection, it sparked a wonderful discussion with my two daughters about why building inner character is just as important as building a career. In fact, the two go hand in hand—the moral compass of our lives must also be the moral compass of our livelihoods.
Jim Stengel (Former CMO/P&G)A married couple in their 80s, whom I have known for 32 years and dearly love and respect, gave the book to me this year for my birthday. They demanded I read it and then join them for dinner to discuss it. It opened my mind and made me think about how I live my life. David’s book elaborates on the concept of “Adam I” and “Adam II.” Adam I wants high status and external achievement, Adam II wants to do good and also be good. Our culture today is all Adam I. I left P&G seven years ago, after a 25-year career, to start a small business to help people in business discover their purpose and grow. David’s book helped me see more clearly why I did that, and inspired me with wonderful stories that set a thoughtful standard for a life of character.
Bill Gates (CEO/Microsoft)The insightful New York Times columnist examines the contrasting values that motivate all of us. He argues that American society does a good job of cultivating the “résumé virtues” (the traits that lead to external success) but not our “eulogy virtues” (the traits that lead to internal peace of mind). Brooks profiles various historical figures who were paragons of character. I thought his portrait of World War II General George Marshall was especially enlightening. Even if the distinction between the two types of virtues is not always crystal clear, The Road to Character gave me a lot to think about. It is a thought-provoking look at what it means to live life well.
Gunhee Park (Co-Founder/Populum)The author, David Brooks, examines the lives and habits of historical figures to observe how they tamed their egos, built character, and strived to perfect their vocation.
With the wisdom, humor, curiosity, and sharp insights that have brought millions of readers to his New York Times column and his previous bestsellers, David Brooks has consistently illuminated our daily lives in surprising and original ways. In The Social Animal, he explored the neuroscience of human connection and how we can flourish together. Now, in The Road to Character, he focuses on the deeper values that should inform our lives.
Looking to some of the world’s greatest thinkers and inspiring leaders, Brooks explores how, through internal struggle and a sense of their own limitations, they have built a strong inner character. Labor activist Frances Perkins understood the need to suppress parts of herself so that she could be an instrument in a larger cause. Dwight Eisenhower organized his life not around impulsive self-expression but considered self-restraint. Dorothy Day, a devout Catholic convert and champion of the poor, learned as a young woman the vocabulary of simplicity and surrender. Civil rights pioneers A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin learned reticence and the logic of self-discipline, the need to distrust oneself even while waging a noble crusade.
Blending psychology, politics, spirituality, and confessional, The Road to Character provides an opportunity for us to rethink our priorities, and strive to build rich inner lives marked by humility and moral depth.
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