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Gaining Your Temper(ance)

April 25, AD2013 3 Comments


Jim runs a small business.  He helps other businesses setup computer networks and troubleshoots other business needs. Lately, business has been growing faster than normal. As the pace quickens, he has become more stressed and spending more time in the office. What he never anticipated was the retention of his employees beginning to fade. His employees have been paid well, provided benefits, and given a modest vacation package. One day he saw a recent employee, Sally, at an industry convention and offered to buy her lunch.

After exchanging greetings and pleasantries, he asked Sally how she liked her new position at one of his competitors. She said she was pleased though it paid less than his company. After a few minutes, he decided to ask her why she had left his firm. Sally replied “Ever since the growth in your company, you became so stressed that it began to spill into the relationships with each of us. The bursts of anger and tone of voice created unwelcomeness. I started to regret working here.”

Heather is a sales manager for a pharmaceutical company. Half of her job is providing new sales training for the different drug representatives. The other half of her work is meeting clients in the region’s medical district where she also provides educational seminars over dinner for doctors and their spouses. She recently divorced after an eight year marriage.

She had been depressed, feeling less attractive, and less desired. One of her friends that is very popular among the wrong men persuaded her to loosen up and be more fun with the guys. Heather started wearing clothing that pushed the professional boundaries and began being much more flirtatious with the men doctors. A few months later, she began to notice a change in the way her male clientele acted toward her. Some of the sleazier doctors began treating her in a degrading fashion and the more virtuous doctors kept conversation very short and less personal. She even seemed to be losing her relationship with many of the spouses of the men doctors.

Temperance is a cardinal virtue.

One of the many obligations that a leader faces is making choices. Practicing the virtue of temperance allows to the leader to make wise decisions. As St. Clement of Alexandria says temperance is “a state of mind which by choosing and avoiding preserves the judgments of wisdom.” In the past, intemperance was considered the “childish” vice. Children are still in the learning phase of making decisions.  They have difficulty in knowing where to stop. The goal is that by adulthood, a person ought to have at least a moderate notion of temperance.

If a leader is in the habit of disrespecting his colleagues due to anger, then he has allowed an emotion to have power over his treatment of others. If a woman dresses to attract lustful glances or flirts with other married men, then she has taken immodesty and playfulness to such a place that it affects her professional relationships. Both misapplied anger and immodesty are vices that run counter to temperance.

St. Augustine in “Of the Morals of the Catholic Church” says

“The office of temperance is in restraining and quieting the passions which make us pant for those things which turn us away from the laws of God and from the enjoyment of His goodness, that is, in a word, from the happy life.”

With time, I will cover other virtues that pertain to temperance. Some will include:

  • Abstinence and Continence
  • Sobriety
  • Honesty

Are there other ways that temperance can benefit leadership? Do you think it is hard to follow a leader lacks temperance?

© 2013. Jared Tomanek. All Rights Reserved.

Photography: See our Photographers page.

About the Author:

J.Q. lives in the country of Texas with his wife Denise, a Southern Belle from Trinidad and Tobago, and his three children. He holds two graduate degrees from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, an MBA and Master of Science in Organizational Leadership, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Franciscan University of Steubenville. Having taught for five years in Catholic education, he now works in the construction industry in Victoria, TX. He is a parishioner of Holy Family of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus Parish in the Diocese of Victoria.

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