So, when Alexandra told me she got his newest book called The Second Mountain, I immediately snatched it and started reading it. It’s awesome.
In the book, David makes the distinction between the “first mountain” we all tend to climb (featuring the normal metrics of success that society tells us we should go after) and the “second mountain” (the mountain that the most joyful of us climb after realizing the happiness from the first mountain was unfulfilling).
The second mountain involves deep commitments to something bigger than ourselves. David identifies four: Vocation + Family + Faith/Philosophy + Community.
We’ll probably come back to those for more. (And, of course, check out the Notes.)
Today I want to chat about one of the distinctions David makes between The Road to Character and The Second Mountain.
As he explains in The Second Mountain, he no longer believes that “character building is like going to the gym: You do your exercises and build up your honesty, courage, integrity, and grit.”
He says: “I now think good character is a by-product of giving yourself away.”
And, he tells us that “Character is a good thing to have, and there’s a lot to be learned on the road to character. But there’s a better thing to have—moral joy. And that serenity arrives as you come closer to embodying perfect love.”
I’d frame it in a slightly different, “yes/and” progression.
I think that character building IS like going to the gym. With one (important) distinction: We’re not going to the gym for ourselves per se (/the equivalent of snapping a six-pack selfie for Instagram). We’re going to the gym (and training hard!) to have (heroic) STRENGTH FOR TWO.
We KNOW that the ultimate end is not our own character development for its own sake but character development SUCH THAT we can serve as profoundly as possible and have the necessary strength to give ourselves most fully to the world.
Which leads us to our always-evolving Optimize approach.
Optimize = Optimus = Best = Eudaimon = HERO.
We do the hard work to have strength for two so we can give ourselves to the world. Period.
Enter: Moral (Eudaimonic!) Joy.
But that’s not quite the point of Today’s +1.
As I was reflecting on that wisdom when I got up from my chair to bang out my burpees (and pull-ups and all that) for my 1,000-second-micradian oscillations to keep my Energy strong in service to my Work, I found myself dedicating each rep to a different person in our community.
I’m rigorously training my mind and body and soul to forge my character so I can serve our Optimize community profoundly.
All the wisest teachers and faith traditions tell us that there’s a joy in moving beyond ourselves.
I say we find it one rep at a time.
I’m off to bang out some more burpees.
These ones will be for YOU.