Quote: “…the people must either be chivalrous on its own resources, or else choose between the two remaining alternatives of brutality and softness. This indeed, part of the general problem of a classless society, which is too seldom mentioned. Will its ethos be a synthesis of what was best in all the classes, or a mere ‘pool’ with the sediment of all and the virtues of none?”
-The Necessity of Chivalry by C.S. Lewis
Elevating the Conversation
Wisdom from the past is often deeper than the new, exciting, mind-blowing “brand wisdom” we hear today. Today we’re about shortcuts. We’re cynical about integrity and doing things the right way. But what if there were a better way?
Chivalry is Art, Not Nature
Chivalry gives us an example of values that focus on higher ideas. In other words, chivalry, along with values like it, help us focus on things outside ourselves. These things tend to give us bravery and all the things we want.
The Two Kinds of “Things We Want”
We want material possession, and we want honor. And we haven’t decided which is most important.
The Stuff: Of course, part of the problem is that we want a house, a car, the best job and the perfect family. And then, when we have those things, we want more. We’re never happy when we’re focused on ourselves.
The Honor: But what if we could just want honor? What if we could just want to be brave and capable…so we can take care of other people? What if, instead of wanting power for ourselves, we wanted it so we could take care of others?
Chivalry Has Lost Popularity Today
Maybe because it’s associated with the patriarchy. Western civilization has given us many of the best values we now hold dear. Maybe there’s something to it?
In fact, taking all right and wrong out of our decisions, in an effort not to offend or polarize could be the very reason we lack leadership.
In any case, the lack of men who can take responsibility for decisions and for other people is hurting America. So how do we begin to reverse this?
Chivalry in History
Some historians play down the idea of chivalry, claiming that it wasn’t actually practiced very often by knights in the Middle Ages. This may seem like an objection until we realize that it has nothing at all to do with our conversation. If they’re good ideas, then they’re good ideas. Not only that, but I find it hard to believe that chivalry became so popular in history, despite the idea that nobody actually practiced it.
But let’s look at the rules. A couple historians named Mills and Gautier list the root ideas of chivalry below:
- Loyalty: They were loyal to the country in which they were born.
- Forbearance: They were patient.
- Hardihood: They were strong.
- Largesse or Liberality: They were generous, and they hated bribes.
- The davidic ethic: Made sure the weak weren’t unfairly taken advantage of.
- Honor: They believed that living out the above values was more important than life.
My source for the above list is here (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chivalry). The definitions are mine.
Tell Us What You Think
Are you skeptical of this whole thing? Are you a little inspired, maybe to practice one of these things a little more in your life? Also, what enables you to practice these things, even when the situation seems dire? I’d like to hear from you in the comments.
CTA: If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, and you want to learn the steps of accelerating your organization’s ability to lead using brand and content strategy, then let’s talk. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For a full reading and visual of Lewis’ “The Necessity of Chivalry,” check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBT9LasyC3E
If you’ve enjoyed this outline, and you want to learn more about standing up a brand in your own organization using brand and content strategy and the brand hacking method, which means keeping it simple and iterating quickly, then let’s talk.
Bio: I’m Chris Stadler, and I’m interested in showing brands how to right-size your promises so that they’re promises you can keep. Because it’s not the expensive branding agencies that make great brands; they’re just the decorators. It’s your leadership and integrity that make it all work. So get into the process.