Course Description

While technologically our species is more advanced than ever, we are witnessing a decline in what is typically referred to as “character.” As I write this at the end of 2021, we endure what’s called “The Great Resignation.” In August, 4.3 million Americans, or 2.9% of the entire workforce quit their jobs.

There are many theories why: excess cash from government assistance, family pressures from closed schools, fear of COVID 19, the rise of remote work, etc. 

But what if The Great Resignation is just another expression of a slow-moving crisis coming to a head? For the last twenty years, Gallup reported the majority of employees are disengaged. Younger generations are job-hopping far more than their elders, and surveys show they want mentoring that they’re not getting.

What I see is a crisis of meaning.

There is another resignation that the U.S. is amidst: the decline of religion. In 1945, 76% of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue, or mosque. In 2020, Gallup showed that number was 47%, dropping below the majority for the first time in history.

Whether you think religion is good or bad isn’t relevant here. The effects are common sense. For millennia, religion functioned to teach morals, virtue, character, etc. As those systems lose support, they are not yet sufficiently replaced. Where should character be taught if not inside a religion? The family? Most parents aren’t qualified if they even have the time. Religion was how they outsourced that job. 

Public education? Imagine students returning home and challenging their parents’ character. Parents wouldn’t stand for anything substantive, the same way sex education was diluted to be acceptable to everyone, and so rendered impotent.

Religion itself moves in the same accomodating direction in an attempt to maintain its numbers, at the expense of moral clarity. The average person, therefore, raised in a religion today is likely to have less character than someone fifty years ago because the requirements are less stringent, and the training less rigorous.

Where then, will the average person learn virtue?

What if the answer is business? 

It’s already happening. Employees are hungry for values-driven businesses. Businesses thrive that organize around a meaningful theme. Zappos doesn’t sell shoes, they “deliver happiness.” Ben and Jerry’s says “We use ice cream to change the world.” Southwest strives “to be the world’s most-loved airline.”

It makes perfect sense that the more religion declines, the more employees need their work to be meaningful, and they want an authority figure to make it so. They don’t realize it, and might never admit it, but they want their boss in some ways to fill the role of priest, rabbi, or imam.

When they don’t get the meaning they’re looking for, they job-hop, telling themselves they want more interesting work, more money, an easier commute, etc. But what they’re truly hungry for is meaning, especially their own evolution. 

The effects of this on business right now have never been greater. Employee retention is a crisis. Managers waste resources training and retraining, and/or personally filling lower-level positions. Products and services are backlogged and riddled with quality problems because companies are short-staffed and/or operated by the inexperienced. The supply chain is backed up and customers are getting cranky. 

It’s a mess, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s good news.

Truly values- and meaning-based businesses will survive this storm and be stronger for it. Those that cling to 1950s style supervision and expect employees to be grateful just to have a job will fail. That’s how evolution works. You either get with the program or die.

The workforce has spoken. They can’t just work for money anymore. They need to be nurtured to become greater versions of themselves. They need mentoring to gain character, to embody virtue. They need managers who can help them find their self-interest and fan the flames of their deepest dreams.

Already have company values? Good, but more than likely they’re not enough. For values and meaning to be alive in a company, they must be rigorously defined and then be an ongoing conversation, every day. Can your employees speak at length about your values in a compelling way, especially as it relates to their own personal journey? Probably not.

You can’t find meaning in a box. Values are more than just a list on a webpage. And character is something built slowly, over time, in an environment where people care about who they are and who they’re becoming. It requires curiosity, courage, and commitment. It requires a sober investigation into the unknown. It requires a new breed of leaders than what this planet has seen before.

This course, Embodied Values & Virtues, uses the eight virtues of the Samurai as a framework for the development of honor, the embodiment of soul-level values, and the achievement of excellence.

This course can be used by leaders and managers to develop their culture, and/or by employees to augment the meaningfulness of their current path. All are welcome.

You can make a one-time purchase of this course or become a Dojo Member and get access to all courses.

Embodied Values & Virtues broadcasts live on Zoom, Thursdays at 11:15 am PT, beginning January 6, 2022 for 11 sessions ending March 15, 2022. All recordings will be posted by the morning following the session, becoming an online course.

Josef Shapiro

Since I first trained as a business coach at EMyth in 2002, I’ve been a change agent for thousands of business leaders and managers. Coaching is a fast-growing industry, but it's also very young. I'm a perennial student and never satisfied with the pace of human change because I think we can do better. For me, it’s an unsolved mystery and the needless suffering inside workplaces around the world hangs in the balance. It affects us all. Learn more at

Course curriculum

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