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The lost concept of Noblesse Oblige

Posted on: Wednesday, May 13, 2020 Category: Blog (58)
< 1 min read

The translation from French is – you guessed it – nobility is obligated. That is, those in positions of greatness (wealth, title, responsibility) have an obligation to society. That your behaviour should reflect your position. That you have a responsibility to behave a certain way.

Noblesse Oblige sits neatly with lovely old fashioned concepts like:

  • Courage – a leader actually leading from the front
  • Humility – someone being prepared to do what they ask of others
  • Generosity – of spirit, time and money. Thinking of others, giving without the thought of return
  • Chivalry – defending those weaker than yourself and helping them

Noblesse Oblige is kind of the opposite of Laissez Faire – another French term which loosely means ‘live and let live’ – don’t interfere. You see, Noblesse Oblige means that you should step in, up and out for what you believe is right. Especially if you are privileged.

The bible and most theologies and philosophies touch on this concept:

“For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required; and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” (Luke 12:48)

There is so much status given to those who demonstrate noblesse oblige. It is responsible for things like Carnegie Hall and the Rockefeller Centre. To give is noble. To take is easy.

It feels sometimes like big chunks of society have forgotten or dismissed this concept, in the constant pursuit of instant validation. Let’s bring it back.

How do you intend to give to others today? To build up others and share your strengths with them?

Your personal brand is about how you make other people feel not what you can get for the least amount of effort.

2 thoughts on "The lost concept of Noblesse Oblige"

  1. Neil Higson says:

    We live in a very narcissistic society, therefore, as I would love to hear the phrase more often, it is highly unlikely. Shame on society.

  2. L says:

    Though not at all wealthy, my mother drilled this concept into me. However, even when you are sincere, you risk being viewed as condescending or haughty. I think this is particularly common in society today where many people have trust issues from childhood traumas

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