In our work as executive coaches and consultants our goal is to help people find direction, meaning and satisfaction in their lives.
A key ingredient to living a more satisfying life is being a person of character. The Oxford Essential Dictionary defines character as “the collective qualities or characteristics, especially mental and moral, that distinguish a person; moral strength.” In the United States, there is a sense that personality – charm, a quick tongue, fashion or style – is the ingredient to success, but in our experience we have seen that character is the true predictor of long-term success and personal satisfaction. (As my grandfather used to say, “Personality is to success as paint color is to winning the car race – it’s what’s under the hood that counts.”)
Most of us tend to believe that we are people of character, and we believe many people are, but most of don’t consciously articulate, claim and nurture the qualities that we believe make us people of character. Yet, once we articulate the qualities that we value and want to lead with in our lives, it’s easier to be true to them and know when they are being challenged.
Take a few moments today and list those qualities that define your character or those that you would like to have define your character. Don’t make it long or arduous – just write down 5 attributes that you would be proud to say define your character. Take action this week: for each of the 5 attributes, spend one day fully living from that attribute you want to nourish and call your own.
Our client Jim said that he is honest, loyal, kind, humble, and appreciative of others. Doing this assignment:
On Monday – he lived from his place of honesty and cleaned up as many relationships in his life where he hadn’t been honest in the ways that were important to him. For instance, he had an old debt that he had promised to repay, but had never done so. On Monday, he made it a point to clean up his debt and lived more freely as a result.
On Tuesday – he lived from a place of loyalty and made sure that he let the people he felt loyal to know that they were important to him and that they had his loyalty and support and when he had not been loyal to people who mattered to him he cleaned it up.
You get the picture. To be successful, you need to live in congruence with the set of values that you hold for yourself and that you want to define your character. To do less is to rob yourself of your own esteem and your clarity of purpose.