How to build character

How to build character? Now that’s a frequently asked question. Whether it’s someone seeking to build their own character or to improve character in someone else, we hear it often. However the supplementary question is, what is meant by character?

Now there’s a difference between being ‘a character’ and being ‘of character’. Whereas the former just means being a little bit eccentric, a wit perhaps, or even a raconteur. That’s not the subject of this post, despite all these being admirable qualities, of course. The point being considered here is how to become a person of character.

So what does it mean to be a person of character? First of all people of character usually do what is right regardless of whether they’re being watched or not. They also display traits such as honesty, integrity, courage, manners, self-reliance, commitment, and determination. The comedian Will Rogers once jokingly observed that to be of character people should “live in such a way that they wouldn’t be ashamed to sell their parrot to the town gossip.

So being of good character is an important thing to be. If achieving sustained success is your aim them talent alone isn’t enough. Talent might get you into the limelight briefly but without strong character you’re unlikely to remain there for too long. The process of developing good character is one that is on-going. So you have to keep working at it.

Essentially character is composed of 3 things:-

  1. Values: Having the right values and knowing what matters most.
  2. Doing what is right: Even when no one is watching.
  3. Being a decent person: Showing wisdom, honesty, integrity, love, humility, loyalty, courage, compassion, empathy, self-awareness, and a willingness to recognise fair criticism.

Everyone has at least some work to do to become a person of good character. This is an area where constant improvement is necessary, however good you are now. Some people may be well on the way to being of good character, whilst others may have a lot of work to do yet. However those that are still some way off can change and they can grow in character. You can be better if you want to be better and you can practice the behaviours necessary. These include:-

1. Decide you will be better:

As mature adults our first duty is to take care of ourselves and to be the best people we can be. To live lives worthy of respect. So decide to be the person you really could be.

2. Life-long learning:

It doesn’t matter how good you are, there’s always room for improvement. Improvement comes through education and learning, whether formal or informal, and experience is gained by doing, making mistakes and learning the lessons from mistakes made.

3. Work on yourself:

To quote the late Jim Rohn, “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.” We’re all works in progress. Make sure you keep getting better.

Don’t leave them saying, “He used to be really good.” When they speak of you, make sure they say, “He just keeps getting better. He’s an example to us all.

4. Pursue excellence:

If anything is worth doing then it’s worth doing properly. The way you live your life is no exception.

5. Add value:

Our contribution to society is the value we add. That might be in the example we set or the work that we produce. We don’t get paid for the hour. We get paid for the value we put into the hour. Leave every situation better than you found it.

6. Be determined:

If success is your aim, it won’t happen without hard work and determination. Being good is not enough. Being determined to get to where you want to go is everything.

7. Be persistent:

Never accept an answer unless it’s the want you want. Never accept an outcome as the final outcome unless it’s the one that you want. Never, ever quit until you get to where you want to be or you’ve achieved the goal you set for yourself. Remember; winners never quit and quitters never win. Be the winner you can be.

8. Accept every challenge:

Never underestimate the importance of taking on a challenge. A challenge provides us with experience through which we’ll learn lessons. It’s also a means through which character is developed in the process. Not only will we learn more about our own character, we’ll learn about our capacity to achieve.

9. Ask yourself some searching questions:

It is a fact that too many people go to their graves with their full potential unrealised. Never quite developing their characters to the point where they leave a genuine legacy and an example for others to follow.

Ask yourself this question, “If you were to die tomorrow how will you be remembered at your funeral?” What will they say about you? How would you prefer to be remembered? What would you like people to say about you? And how can you change now to ensure they do?

Depending on the answers to those questions, you may well decide to make a few changes in your life.

Where to go from here:

If that proves to be the case, start with value. What values will you live by and what value are you going to add from now on? Be a person with values and of value.

Then think about challenges you could take on to build your character.

In taking on a challenge we can often surprise ourselves in terms of just how far we can go. Through a challenge we can also learn new skills and improve our self-confidence.

A challenge is an opportunity to grow; it’s an opportunity to learn; and it’s an opportunity to make progress towards becoming the person you really could be.

It’s true that challenges are hard and they’re meant to be. Challenges push us out of our comfort zone and that’s the whole point. Unless we move out of our comfort zone, how can we possibly grow as people?

So embrace challenges but never fear failing at a challenge; your only fear should be never realising you full potential because you failed to move out of your comfort zone.

Do well in a challenge and it can provide you with benefits you couldn’t have imagined before you started. At the very least every challenge makes you that little bit stronger and builds your character, so you really can’t lose.

So do you have some changes to make? If so, what and by when? Write them all down and make a plan. Now! It’s never too late to be the person you could be.

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© Roy J Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2017. All Rights Reserved.

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