During the recent V-Convention last month in Malaysia, I had the privilege to address an audience of over 6,000 people. One of the topics I spoke on was ‘character building’, which I have also occasionally touched upon in my previous Gems of Wisdom posts.
What is ‘character’? Character is the most fundamental definition of any person. It is what differentiates us as humans. It is our very essence. It is what guides us in our journey from being a ‘nobody’ to a ‘somebody’.
How then does one build character? Character building begins with our thoughts. Thoughts translate into words. Acting on our words forms habits. And over time, habits shape character.
Character development is a continuous process and is so important in our lives. Be it the business of life or the business of work, the reality is, our journey is all about relationships and teamwork. Remember, you are the leader of the team you build. And if you seek to build a team that lasts, as is the goal of every leader, it is important to have a rock solid foundation of good character.
True, every person is unique. We are all born under different circumstances; go through different life experiences, all of which contribute to shaping our character. While some take on leadership roles effortlessly, there are many who feel they lack in the qualities of a good leader. This is where character building helps.
Generally, every human being is unconsciously attracted to people with good qualities. Virtue, compassion, goodness… these are just some of the qualities people seek in others.
Remember, whether we want it or not, our character comes across clearly and transparently to anyone tuning into us, consciously or otherwise. So avoid falling into the trap of pretentious behaviour just to impress someone or achieve short term gains. To be really successful, be honest to yourself, and to your team.
To be a successful leader, build that character in yourself that you would like to see in your leader. Ask yourself, “Would I actually like to follow a leader like myself?”, “Am I not a leader?”, and “Should I not have the qualities that make one?”
Your character determines your destination. If you don’t like where you are headed today, create your path towards your desired destiny. Character is what will help shape that path.
It is no secret. There are many ways to build your character. One way is to conquer your fears. It is one of the biggest tumbling blocks in developing character. Be confident!
Talking about a good thing also leads to it. Constantly associate with people who carry good qualities or are successful. Learn, adopt and absorb their positivity.
Refrain from doing what is not good for you. Control your senses. Weak morals point to a weak character. If you allow yourself to be swayed by simple things, how can you expect to be trusted? Practise strict discipline. If a person is not hard on himself, the world will be hard on him; if he is hard on himself, the world will be easy on him.
Last but not the least, in your journey from being a ‘nobody’ to a ‘somebody’, find someone who will be a contrarian to you; someone who will challenge you just when you think you have found the easy way to success. By doing so, you will find yourself sharpening your skills, wanting to learn, focussing on building yourself and making the necessary changes to be better. This is the fastest way to build your character.
Please take a moment to ponder… Character building is not a one-off attempt. It is a continuous process in the cycle of life. Once we have traveled the path from being a ‘nobody’ to a ‘somebody’, we have to start all over again. We have to step back into the shoes of other ‘nobodies’ in our team and lead them through the same journey. And that is the true test of character.