Temperance is about growth and development.

While the standing traditional definition has been aligned around moderation in a variety of our activities, the practice of self-control is more in line with the discipline of building upon one’s faith. Self-control allows for growth in our freedom, in our ability to have the world revolve less around us, and more around assisting others; particularly the marginalized. In an organization, temperance can be used as a safe guard against any excesses that may be damaging to ourselves or others around us. To practice self-control when someone may have done something that inhibits the mission, means we are exercising empathy, compassion and care for another.

It’s about upholding human dignity.

In other words, temperance is less about avoiding for fear of living in excess and more about giving in order to add to the common good. Temperance is a shining example of the phrase, “addition by subtraction”. For when we practice self-control, the appearance is we are depriving ourselves of something. In reality, we are gaining so much more than we can possibly imagine and so are the people around us. The Catechism teaches us, “Temperance is the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods. It ensures the will’s mastery over instincts and keeps desires within the limits of what is honorable.,, “Do not follow your inclination and strength, walking according to the desires of your heart.”

Organizations can learn much from this ‘will’s mastery’.

Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise, by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool, show that business and organizational leaders have a great incentive through not only the practice of temperance, but allowing for the mastery of this virtue. The standard today seems to be 10,000 hours of practice to master anything and be able to perform at the highest level. However, it isn’t just the practice itself that creates these experts, it is the interaction of those seeking to master anything with others who have already achieved such levels – a method Ericsson and Pool describe as “deliberate practice”.

Ericsson points out that in fields such as music or sports, training (or practice) entails about 99% of one’s time. The time spent performing is about 1%. However, in business, Ericsson notes, it is the exact opposite. We perform 99% of the time. It is through deliberate practice that we begin to see the results of what we are trying to master. Ericsson and Pool conclude this is something that can be achieved even if the attempt is not in the workplace. For example, someone seeking to master their golf swing will learn to apply the same technique of discipline to their work. As Peter Drucker has written, self-control should not be used as a tactic to put pressure on someone; rather it needs to be used to improve one’s performance.

When we grow and develop, others around us benefit. Pope Francis, in Laudato Si expressed it this way, “Happiness means knowing how to limit some needs which only diminish us, and being open to the many different possibilities which life can offer.”