Thoughts on Character

Character is who you are when nobody is looking and you can get away with anything.

Character consists of two things:

1) Your values - what you deem important in your life;

2) Your integrity - the extent to which your choices and actions in life are consistent with your values.

If I say I value honesty, but I lie constantly... I’m out of integrity with my values.

If I say I believe in being dishonest, and I lie all the time... I’m living in integrity with my values, but I don’t value integrity itself.

When it comes to character, what people say their values are matters very little.

What matters far more is what people DO.

Actions speak far more accurately than words.

People around you are revealing their character to you every day through their actions. Whether you choose to listen is up to you.

In addition, character tends to get tested (and thus revealed) at life’s extremes.

It is easy to state any number of values while living a typical day.

If you win the lottery and have unlimited financial resources, who you really are becomes more obvious.

(Money doesn’t change people; it merely reveals who they’ve always been but lacked the resources or courage to show.)

If you lose your life savings, how you respond also reveals much about your character.

If you’ve just had the biggest success possible in your field, how you change or don’t change says a lot about who you are.

Similarly, if you’ve had the biggest failure in your career imaginable, how you respond reveals who you are.

The positive and negative extremes of life reveal one’s character.

Deciding whom you let into your life will be one of the most important decisions you make.

When making this decision, it’s useful to know the character of the people you associate with.

When you let people into your life that possess values that are incompatible with yours, there will eventually be a negative consequence to you.

If you work with a boss who says she believes in being fair, but in practice she doesn’t, don’t be surprised when she takes credit for your work.

If your CEO says one of the company’s values is respect, yet he disparages your coworkers in meetings, don’t be surprised when someday the person being disparaged is you.

Knowing the character of the people around you provides you with useful knowledge.

It allows you to make informed decisions about which people you want to associate with, whom you want to be close to, and whom you’d like to move away from.

Equally important is to know your own character.

What do you value in your life?

Are your daily actions congruent with your values?

Every day the people around you are observing your character and deciding whether they want to be closer or further away from you.

People with similar values tend to cluster together.

If you don’t like the people around you, what does this say about you?

Do you possess values that you dislike in others?

Or do you possess a different set of values, but lack sufficient conviction or courage to walk away from relationships where the other person has values that are incompatible with yours?

Character is who you are.

My question of the day is simple:

Who are you?

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2 comments… add one
  • Tamer Jamil May 4, 2017, 1:08 pm

    Victor, as always, your articles are deeply insightful and useful.

  • Lynn Liu May 24, 2017, 11:07 pm

    Every word steps on my heart! I have been exploring who I am, I was too weak and eager to get approved by people around despite their characters, now I can leave people who I do not appreciate without doubt and do not care about their attitude towards me anymore.

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