Decision making using the cardinal virtues

Use the four cardinal virtues as building blocks for making decisions.

Prudence is the base, followed by justice, fortitude, and temperance. The order is important.

1. Prudence: Do your due diligence, run the numbers, ask questions and build scenarios. Do the work and make sure the unit economics make sense.

2. Justice: So economics work, but is your idea or action just? The test is whether your concept or activities deny someone else’s rights. If they do, then it’s not just. That test includes yourself. Are you doing yourself justice? Your plan might benefit everyone else but be punitive to you. An example is the 2018 immigration debate in the USA. A well-secured border is prudent, but separating babies from their immigrant mothers at the border is not just.

3. Fortitude: Okay so you’ve ticked the two boxes. The idea is prudent and just, but do you have the fortitude or courage to follow through on your decision. None of the first two virtues matter if you can’t follow through with the idea.

4. Temperance: Don’t get carried away by your emotions because it’ll cloud your judgment. If you allow your feelings to hijack your decision once you’ve committed, then you’ll buckle or second guess yourself at the first sign of resistance.

Virtues never go out of style or reach their shelf life. The same principles that applied centuries ago are relevant today.

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