Let’s be honest…There are times when we’re not always at our best, right? We have our good days and bad days and we can’t always check our feelings and emotions at the door or put the filter on before we say or do something. We procrastinate, we doubt our abilities, we don’t value our time or the people that are closest to us. We negate our health or our relationships and we become too self-involved.
With the state of things right now it got me thinking about the whole idea of character building and how it feels like that’s in short supply today. We have become a society of instant gratification, short attention spans, and high anxiety. And being in the midst of a pandemic hasn’t helped anything, but we should be looking at ways we can build our character, not downplay it.
Building character is so important in your career, your relationships, your goal-setting, and your overall well-being. But before we explore the different types and the ways you can build it, let’s look at what it really means.
Character is defined as the “mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.” You can have good character traits like perseverance, respect, kindness, and integrity, and negative character traits like dishonesty, rudeness, impatience, and greed. It’s a constant balancing act and life-long quest to build up your good character traits while keeping your negative ones in check.
Why is character so essential in business? Good character traits build trust and loyalty and attract other people to you, encourages empathy and compassion, and indicates good leaders who are more focused on relationships and team building rather than their own goals. Someone with good character traits believes they are serving a purpose rather than self-serving.
But building character isn’t easy. It’s a mindset shift and it gets incredibly difficult when life body checks you. But I’ve found some key things you can work on to help you build up your good traits character to have a more fulfilling career and personal journey.
Be in charge of you
Listen, no one owes you anything. You are in charge of your actions, decisions, and motivations to succeed and it’s nobody’s job to take care of you if you can do it yourself. The quicker you realize this, the more determined you will become. All the greats knew what they had to do to become the best. They didn’t let others determine their destiny, nor were they relying on them to succeed. They knew they had to bet on themselves to win and they worked relentlessly to get there.
Yes, we all need support and help along the way and that is a blessing, not an expectation. The most successful people know that in order to win, they need to create their own path and stay focused. How do you respond when you’re faced with a challenge or an obstacle?
You build character when you start to realize that you have the power to create change in your own life and you just don’t talk about it or procrastinate, you actually do it!
Remove distractions and quit bad habits
Take a moment and do some serious reflection. What is causing you to veer off course? What is keeping you from being the person you were meant to be? Is it negative influences, poor diet, a lack of goals? Maybe you feel like you’re in “Groundhog Day” where you’re stuck in the same routine day after day and you feel like nothing will ever change. Break the cycle!
If working out is going to give you the confidence to stand taller, be bolder, and adopt healthier habits, create a plan, start, and stick to it. If your job is unfulfilling and you know you have more to offer than what you’re giving, fix it. Work harder or pursue something else that gives you more passion. Building good character is realizing you have the ability to do what’s right over what’s easy and the only thing that is stopping you from making a course correction is you.
Want to know what happens when you start to break out of your bad habits and daily routines? You get confidence and motivation to move forward and you start to affect those around you in a positive way to inspire them to do the same. You build character by learning how to create positivity in your life and the lives of those within your sphere of influence.
For example, look at what happens when somebody posts online about their successful fitness journey or they pay off all their debt. It’s inspiring and helps others to take control and make changes in their life. Ditch the bad habits, change up the tired routine, and remove the things in your life that are bringing you down!
Did you know you have the power to change the outcome of someone’s day just by being nice to them? Kindness builds character by helping others when you can freely give your time and energy without expecting anything in return.
Someone told me that during the Christmas break they were going to take their kids to go volunteer at a soup kitchen so that they can show their kids the value of helping others less fortunate. I love this idea! This is character building and is teaching the next generation how to be compassionate, empathetic, and kind, creating well-rounded little humans who care more about putting others first, than themselves. Now more than ever, we need to treat each other with more kindness, respect, and dignity.
Do you want to be the best basketball player? The most successful entrepreneur? Own it! It’s yours for the taking, but only if you have the drive to get there. Good character building comes from taking control of your future, owning up to your mistakes, and learning from them to keep moving forward. Remember nobody knows about the actual road that you’re on, they’re only looking at the results.
I played on the best basketball team in the world. We didn’t become that by accident. It was the combination of individuals who understood what it meant to be the very best and worked hard to get there. You can build good character by learning how to constantly be improving and willing to push yourself. Even when the outcome doesn’t look great you’re keeping that bigger, long-term goal in mind.
Delay instant gratification
We are a “see it and swipe” society. We want our desires to be met instantaneously and we’re not willing to wait for anything. Remember how amazing it was when you saved up money long enough to get that coveted toy? The sense of accomplishment and pride? If everything comes so easily, it loses its value and significance.
Studies have shown that the ability to delay reward is present in highly successful people. Too many people give up when their actions don’t yield immediate results. You build good character when you can face challenges and adversity, wait for the right timing, and have a bigger goal in mind, rather than just what’s right in front of you.
Be persistent, not pushy
As an entrepreneur when you’re trying to grow your business, persistence is most likely a prerequisite for success. There’s that fine line between persistent and pushy, but there are some things you can watch out for to make sure you’re not going over that line. Be overly polite and humble, resist the urge to get mad or frustrated. Be empathetic and honest and get creative on how you’re communicating with someone.
Drive can be an amazing thing for success, but have you ever met somebody that was so driven they would steamroll anybody in their way to get to where they wanted to go? Do you end up remembering how successful they were or do they remember they were a jerk? Exactly…
Humility can get a bad rap sometimes. Most of us want to come across as bold and confident, so humility can sometimes seem like a “weaker” trait. But people with increased levels of humility have a higher sense of purpose, stronger relationships with significant others, and a greater call to give.
People that have humility realize that they are not the center of the universe. They take a moment to listen to others, to digest what they’ve had to say before they respond. Practicing humility means admitting your faults and that you may be inexperienced in one area, but you’re not afraid to ask for assistance. You look for similarities, not differences in people.
Learning from our mistakes definitely builds character. This is especially important for our young people today. We have become a society of second place and participation awards for just showing up. You can’t experience the win without the defeat. Some of the worst and the best seasons of our lives are when we grow the most and when we experience defeat, only to realize the mistakes we’ve made so we can reset and come back victorious. Remember all those great underdog movies like Hoosiers and Rudy? We love to root for those people!
Confront fear head-on
I’ve mentioned before that so many entrepreneurs that I’ve talked to knew the risks they were getting into when they started their own business, but they knew it was their calling and they went into the unknown anyway. It’s OK to have fear. Fear is a great motivator. It will keep you sharp. It will keep you accountable and give you drive. You build character when you end up accomplishing things you never thought you were able to.
Building character is not about some grand gesture. It’s making small adjustments to your mindset and your behaviors over time. It’s learning how to recognize the needs of others, forgiving someone that wronged you and being driven without sacrificing your principles, and practicing empathy with humility and kindness. It’s not easy for any of us!
I’m on the board for The Salvation Army and this year they are doing a campaign called “Rescue Christmas” to help those persons and families that have been impacted by the pandemic and the economy. It’s a privilege to be able to serve and be a part of this organization. I would encourage you to support this terrific cause this year as there will be fewer buckets available because of COVID.
Now more than ever we need to be people of good character. Now more than ever we need to be united in faith and hope that even though things have been rough, they’re going to get better. Maybe it starts with each one of us making an effort to make those small adjustments and tweaks to ourselves so we can be better, inspire others, and be different, in a good way.
Thanks for reading! What do you think are good character traits to have?
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