A very good friend of mine is a newly published author, he has written very passionately on and around the subject of the human character or as he describes 100% character, when speaking with him, energetically he informs me that your character is not just your signature strength but the traits that your character forms are so much more, my intrigue at this point just became incredibly engaging, our discussion continued, imagine your wisdom and knowledge combined with courage, humanity, justice, temperance and transcendence. Whilst I have written about these subjects on their own individual merits, I felt an absolute need to investigate further and write this blog.
The facts…..the dictionary defines character as “the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.” Another says it is “the complex of mental and ethical traits marking a person.” In still another dictionary, character is said to be “the stable and distinctive qualities built into an individual’s life which determine his or her response regardless of circumstances.”
Character is important in both your business and everyday activities. It consists of a set of behavior traits or way to you conduct yourself. Your behavior or conduct then determines how other people judge your character or the type of person you are.
When you have good or positive character, you act in a manner that is honorable, courageous, compassionate and ethical. It results in being viewed with respect, overcoming the difficult and feeling good about yourself. This increases your esteem and self-respect, as well as allows you to prosper. A bad reputation can even affect your confidence and relationship with others.
Having good character is important to us all in maintaining a good position in society and a favorable opinion of yourself. Having poor character affects whether others want to deal with you or your business.
Character is a pattern of behavior, thoughts and feelings based on universal principles, moral strength, and integrity – plus the guts to live by those principles every day. Character is evidenced by your life’s virtues and the “line you never cross.” Character is the most valuable thing you have, and nobody can ever take it away.
Whether we are able to name our signature strengths or not, we are naturally motivated to use our greatest assets. The Seligman and Peterson research shows that when using your strengths, you can expect to experience:
Increased happiness at home and at work.
A sense of ownership and authenticity while using the strength.
A rapid learning curve when using the strength.
Your top strengths, typically your top five, are considered your signature strengths. Nurturing your strengths is shown to be both energising and satisfying. Nurturing your strengths is linked to increased happiness.
Kindness: Visit someone in the hospital or a nursing home.
Fairness: Encourage everyone’s participation in a discussion or activity including those who may feel left out.
Honesty/Authenticity: Consider whether the actions you take over the next week match the words you use.
Gratitude: Express your gratitude without using the words thank you.
Open-Mindedness: Play the devil’s advocate by defending a position opposite from your own opinion.
Why Character is Important
Character in life is what makes people believe in you and is essential both for individual success and for our society to function successfully. Each individual must do his or her part every day by living a life of integrity.
Integrity is adhering to a moral code of honesty, courage, strength and truthfulness – being true to your word. When you do not exhibit integrity, other people get hurt. But you hurt yourself even more.
When you cheat, your “success” is false. When you break a promise, you are showing that your word is meaningless. When you lie, you deceive others and lose their respect.
All of those examples destroy your reputation and break the trust others have in you. Without your good reputation and trustworthiness, your relationships fail.
Relationships and Success
Relationships are the foundation for success in life.
For example, when you destroy the relationships with your friends, you will have no friends. You will be isolated and alone.
If a student promises not to cheat, but does, he is taking unfair advantage to put himself ahead of others without deserving it. He can ruin his reputation, his academic record and his job prospects forever.
When a businessman makes a promise to customers and doesn’t deliver, he destroys his relationships with his customers. His customers go elsewhere and his business fails.
By breaking your relationships, you break the foundation for success in your life. What is true success? For example, who is more successful? Someone who is famous and makes a great deal of money, or someone who has no fame, makes little money, but is a great parent? Today, in school, is too much emphasis being placed on “good grades” and “high test scores” – so much so that are these things, rather than good character, how we define success?
Your good character is the most important asset you have. It takes a lifetime to build but can be lost in an instant. Once lost, it is difficult to regain. Your true character is revealed when no one else is looking. Often, people decide to act based on short term gain, or an easy fix to a problem and end up doing the wrong thing.
The old adage “you are what you do” is true. Failure to consider the long term consequences of your acts can be disastrous. By study and focusing on the importance of character, you will be guided by principles, moral strength, and integrity to do the right thing. Nothing is more important for true success in your life.
In summary, I guess we need to start asking ourselves some deep questions:
Is our character influencing others for good and helping them build their own power and strength?
Are we doing our part to be a man of character and infuse our culture and nation with vitality?
What grooves and lines are you engraving upon your character each and every day?
Character is our legacy – what will yours be?
Abraham Lincoln said:
“Reputation is the shadow. Character is the tree.”
Our character is much more than just what we try to display for others to see, it is who we are even when no one is watching. Good character is doing the right thing because it is right to do what is right.