Success and Character – Part One
Character is the twelfth C in the twelve part series of the C’s of Success. Part one covers individual character which is the cornerstone of all personal success in the long term. Low character individuals can and do have short term success, however, the truth of their methods usually catches up to them. They are then and forever considered – unsuccessful.
Character can be considered the ultimate indicator of true success at both the individual and organizational level. Character can dramatically separate individuals and others to see them as unique. This perception is sometimes the only thing that separates the individual from others in the eyes of customers, managers and peers.
What is Character?
What is character? The dictionary defines character as…
The aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing; moral or ethical quality; qualities of honesty, courage, or the like; integrity; reputation, having a good repute; refers to the distinctive qualities that make one recognizable as a person differentiated from others; refers particularly to the combination of outer and inner characteristics that determine the impression that a person makes upon others.
When you get down to the real bottom-line, character is about integrity. It seems people and organizations either have it or don’t have it. The black-white comparison is due to the use of integrity – you either have it or don’t have it. Selective integrity or ethics is really not having it.
Why is character so important to success? Well, if we don’t have character, then anything goes which can be a bad thing if totally unchecked. I will give examples of unchecked character and integrity later in this post. For the time being, just remember that character is an accumulation of your beliefs and values regarding life and business.
What is Individual Character?
Starting with individual character, it is the backbone or starting point for good vs evil in life and business. A person without character will make choices in life that reflect this lack of integrity. This is true source of crime and lack of personal accountability in their actions. Criminals do not make sound choices – preferring to steal or cheat others out of what they have earned.
This past Sunday, our local newspaper ran a special section focused upon crime – real crime and the real consequences to the crimes. It is amazing how many people are involved in daily criminal activity and how long they have been doing it. The amazing thing to me is there appeared to be no negative consequences to their actions. And, this seems to be the key to whether people make good choices or not.
Negative consequences or the possibility of negative consequences is a check system or balancing account for our own mental decision making process. If there are no consequences in our thought process, then anything goes. Any choice is okay – in our uninformed brain. An example of this was shown in the paper where one man has been arrested over 30 times in a seven year period and served some time in jail and after being released would commit another crime within one week. Now if he needed a place to live – I believe he could have found a better place than jail.
With over thirty-eight years of observing individuals in the business world, I can conclude that character is the most important trait an individual can possess. In fact, the individual displays their character, or lack of, at every level of life. This includes their personal and professional lives. It includes the family and social life elements. When it is missing, individuals make poor choices on a regular basis.
Many people have answered me during the years, how does a person build character. Some people believe it is all about religion and religious beliefs. However, I have seen and heard from “religious types” who used selective integrity and were rated as “low character” individuals. (Now, before I get comments telling me off about the above statement – religion is a good thing and when applied will furnish the do’s and don’ts of right vs. wrong – which I believe is very important for people)
The truth is character is a personal choice issue. You have either chosen to do good in life – no matter what happens to you. Or, you have chosen the path of least resistance (no effort or positive towards doing the right thing) and it’s all about satisfying your individual wants and desires. When you chose the path of high integrity and character, then you take responsibility for all your actions and thoughts – no exceptions. This is the ideal you should be focused upon and commit to doing the right things – all the time.