In my last blog post I wrote about the importance of character in light of my team’s recent achievements. You can read more here but as I recognize the impact of character the truth is that it often gets overlooked. Even in complex environments where technical skills are a must it is character that truly makes a difference. The ability to fulfill a task becomes secondary to how one faces challenges and overcomes it. And this is true at work as is at home. As leaders and parents we leave a legacy when we imprint a moral compass that builds another person up preparing them for what’s to come. Making them ready to lead on their own. It’s less about what we know and more about how we inspire, motivate and serve others around us.
“They may forget your name, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
To focus on character is to focus on a journey of growth. If knowledge is achieved through study, then character is molded in us through experiences that reflect wisdom. It is hard to quantify character when today’s measure of success is often focused on the outcome versus the process. But how do we develop character? There are multiple ways but for me there are 2 practical steps that have generated the most personal growth.
Learn humility from someone wiser than you
To grow in character requires humility. Humility to recognize we don’t know everything, and humility to understand others around us might be wiser and better prepared than we are. We often use the word “mentor” when we identify the need to connect with someone more experienced in our quest for a goal. However, a true connection with someone wiser doesn’t set a specific outcome nor does it make it hierarchical. No, a humble connection with someone more experienced offers perspective but also compassion. Yes, it’s about growth but it is also about accountability for when we fall down. It’s like they have the “cheat codes” to life’s challenges but understand when you fall short because they too have experienced failures. And they are willing to walk alongside you simply because they care.
Building commitment through the exercise of journaling
To build character you need commitment. Commitment to your growth. Commitment to stay focused on the objective even when things don’t go according to your plans. Commitment to recognize when you fall short and readjust your course of action. Commitment to your journey and not somebody else’s. The reality is that commitment is hard and therefore underrated. One practical way to build your commitment levels is by creating a healthy habit to journal. This process can seem simple but all you need is a pen and a pad of paper. Make it as manual as possible so it registers in your body and mind as something you actually “do”. You can journal with simple prompts like “what you did the day before” or “what you learned the most from your interaction with others“. Doing this often creates a healthy habit while also building an artifact that contextualizes your growth journey.
These 2 actions have made a difference in my life and helped me over the years. One of my favorite activities on a slow weekend morning is to read previous posts and recognize how commitment to journaling has paid off. In those pages I also see my commitment to growing through difficult situations, the lessons I’ve learned from mentors, and the humility to see things differently.
In what ways do you build character? Comment below and share on the habits of growth that have shaped you!