Understanding the Value of Your Character
"Good character, with honesty and integrity at its core, is essential to success in any area of life. Without it, a person is building on shifting sand." -- John C. Maxwell
The world is full of examples of leaders -- business owners, politicians, church leaders, actors, etc. -- who have been elevated only to come crashing back to earth when their shortcomings and failures come to light.
Probably one of the most well-known quotes is from the world of Spider-Man; whether you know anything about the Spider-Man comics, movies, or related media, you likely know it: "With great power comes great responsibility."
But despite its popularity, most people don't understand this precept or don't take responsibility for their own power, only thinking that it belongs to someone else.
Many people live on the principle that they can do as they please with their choices and lives; the individual doesn't really affect the many. But the reality is that we are all connected by our choices, whether in leadership positions or not.
Opportunities for failure abound, but mistakes can be avoided if you watch for the warning signs in your life. Of course, no one is perfect, but you don't have to step into every pitfall if you are alert and intentional.
The following questions may alert you to the warning signs. Consider how your answers might impact others' respect for you and your character.
1. Am I Keeping My Priorities Straight?
Priorities can shift if we're not paying close attention to them. For example, maybe you started your business because you wanted to spend more time with your family as a result of controlling your schedule. But if you aren't intentional in your choices and boundaries, you could easily allow the pressures of running your business to take over your priorities instead of your family.
It's okay if priorities shift during different seasons of life, but you want to ensure that those shifts result from intentional choices, not simply a lack of focus.
Make a list of your current priorities. How do you set boundaries and keep those priorities in focus?
2. Am I Asking Myself Difficult Questions?
Whatever you do or set your mind to, consider these questions:
Why am I doing this?
Consider your motivation; if you're doing the right thing for the wrong reasons, you're setting yourself up for failure.
How should I do this?
Consider your assumptions; just because something was done a certain way before doesn't mean it should be done that way again.
When should I do this?
Consider your expectations; we tend to want immediate success without considering the consequences or impact or understanding the process for long-term success.
Is there an area of your life where you are operating under the wrong motivation, assumptions, or expectations? Make a list of any possible stumbling blocks.
3. Am I Aware of and Honest about my Blind Spots and Tendencies?
Awareness is the key to intentional action. You have unique characteristics, talents, and strengths that can either draw people to you or push them away based on your intentionality. For example, if your strength is in the area of communication, you are likely easy to talk to, able to fire up a crowd or tell a great joke or story, and draw people to your energy. But on the flip side, you may be a poor listener, an attention seeker, or a chatterbox if you aren't intentional.
Take a moment to consider your blind spots and tendencies. Do they draw others to you or repel them? If they draw others to you, what do you need to watch out for if your intentionality starts to slip? If they repel others, how can you intentionally use your characteristics, talents, and strengths well?
“Unlike your fingerprints that you were born with and can't change, character is something that you create within yourself and must take responsibility for changing. ” — Jim Rohn
4. Am I Accountable to Someone in My Life?
It's difficult for us as humans to submit ourselves to the scrutiny of someone outside of ourselves. Still, accountability helps us be honest about our lives and allows us to gain a greater perspective on our lives.
Write down the name of someone you are accountable to, personally or professionally. How do they hold you accountable? How do you respond when they hold you accountable? How does this accountability help you be more intentional with your choices and actions?
5. Am I Overly Concerned with Building My Image?
As a people person, it is important that you are more concerned with "walking the walk" than giving others a good impression. Being authentic in your interactions builds trust and respect with others.
Answer these questions:
Do I make decisions based on what is right or what is most easily accepted?
Do I change my personality, speech, or actions according to the people I am with?
Do I care more about who receives the credit than getting the job done well?
Do I care more about looking good or serving others?