Brian Tracy stated, “All of life is a test, ultimately proving our character. Wisdom can be developed privately, through study and reflection. But character can only be developed in the give and take of daily life, when forced to choose and decide among alternatives.”
Character is derived from the Middle English word “caracter” which means distinctive quality. Webster defines character as one of the attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual. It’s the complex of mental and ethical traits marking and often individualizing a person, group, or nation. In layman’s terms, character is who you are when no one else is around. It’s the real or authentic “You!”
Some would ask, “What does character look like?” The answer is simply in every choice that is made about everything in life. Every time a choice is made it speaks to the true values and priorities of the individual, which is character. There are four values that influence an individual’s character; Instruction, Study, Practice, Choice.
Many mothers begin instruction to their children early by reading and singing to them while they are still in the womb. After a child is born, they are living sponges when it comes to learning not only from their parents, but everything and everyone they come in contact with. Parents or guardians influence children the most during the formative years and they set the foundation for a lifetime of instruction and core values. Values are developed over time and become a part of a person’s character; defining how they respond to life and all its offerings.
It has been said that the best way to identify a counterfeit dollar bill is to study an authentic one. Humans are wired to study. We study everything because that’s how we learn and grow intellectually. It’s the same with values. The Law of Concentration says that, “Whatever you dwell upon, grows and increases in your life.” When values are repetitious, whether positive or negative, they determine how we will automatically and consistently react in any given situation. Epictetus stated, “Circumstances do not make the man; they merely reveal him to himself.”
Values are practiced every day and in every situation. First comes the learning, secondly the study and thirdly, practice. An unknown author stated, “Practice makes perfect”, but because our values are always challenged by the innumerable issues of life, one may never obtain the second half of that quote. Practice, however, does allow one to continually develop and solidify their values or “habits”. This results in consistency and leaves little question about what one will do in given situations.
Although, we learn, study and practice values throughout our life time, there is still one element that determines the outcome of any situation – Choice, the psychology of character. There are three main reasons, in spite of learning, study and practice that we do what we do; Self-ideal, Self-image and Self-esteem.
· Self-ideal – When a person is clear about; who they are, why they believe what they believe and what they stand for. Those with a strong self-ideal live life on the high road of integrity.
· Self-image – How a person sees themselves or their “inner mirror”. Those with a high self-ideal normally have an equal self-image. They see themselves in a better light and their outer performance reflects the inner confidence of who they are.
· Self-esteem – How much do you like you? Self-esteem is the emotional core for every person. If you like yourself, it is reflected in everything you say and do and, causes you to see yourself as valuable and important.
Character is something that is continuously developed as we make decisions in our lives. This is great news! This means that if a person truly desired to make positive changes in their life and how others see them, they can. Good habits can be developed just as bad habits can be broken. The key to improved character is making a choice to make a change and sticking with it until it becomes a habit!
How well do you know yourself?
How well do others know you?
How well do you know your employees?
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