Character is combination of moral qualities, attributes, good behaviors and habits that is the whole of “you.” It’s consistent good behavior in all circumstances and with all people. It’s how we treat other people and live a purposeful life. It’s your core values.
I grew up on a farm and there’s a joke that all that hard work builds character. It sure didn’t feel like it when it was below freezing and I was pitching smelly silage to feed the cattle. The lesson is character is built , it is developed, it is tested, it can erode or grow in good times and bad. It is the questions of: Who am I? Who are we? Or even Who is the company/organization? Often it is defining moments where you are making a decision between two different things you believe in. It can be as simple as right and wrong and is often more nuanced. It’s a legacy and a reputation.
I was recently part of an external team interviewing for a high level position. We had a great pool of candidates. One industry career long candidate had a defining moment that definitely affected his resume. He got into a verbal fight with a constituent, was fired and now has a two-year gap on his resume. Sometimes a character decision or moment can be that unfortunate. Sometimes people get away with it for a long time. It’s being a good example even when the media blasts bad examples every day.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to gauge your character:
People Oriented Questions
- Do you treat other people like you want to be treated?
- Do you treat people with kindness and respect no matter who they are?
- Do you avoid gossip?
- Do you ever try to make others feel small? Are you condescending?
- Do you respond with grace when someone treats you with rudeness?
- Do you practice good manners?
- Do you help those in need?
- Do you think of others when making decisions, requests or take action? Do you give up personal gain for the benefit of the whole? Do you wonder how it will affect your teammates at work? Are you selfish?
- Are you a good neighbor?
- Are you loyal? Do you stick with your friends even during the bad times?
- Do you nurture and work on your relationships?
- Do you take turns with people? Do you listen to others? In a conversation do you just talk about yourself?
- Do you damage relationships?
- Are you willing to engage in tough conversations with empathy and action?
- Do you make excuses?
- Do you give advice or opinions when it isn’t asked for?
- Do you set boundaries when something does not meet your values?
Growth Oriented Questions
- Are you lazy or do you believe in hard work?
- Do you have a growth mindset? Do you turn challenge into growth?
- How well do you fail? Do you learn from your mistakes? Are you willing to admit and take responsibility for your mistakes?
- Do you have grit – a sustained persistence to achieve your purpose or goals?
- Do you do what you say you are going to do?
- Do you follow through on your plans and commitments? Do you plan ahead?
- Do you act entitled?
Self Reflective Questions
- Do you self-reflect and look inward?
- Do you have a sense of purpose?
- Do you have values and principals you live by?
- Do you hedge the truth?
- Do you behave one way in one situation and then another in a different situation?
- Are you honest? Do you have integrity?
- Do you have self-control? Do you delay gratification for future benefit?
- Are you humble? Do you practice humility
- Do you do your best? Do you set a good example?
- Do you have a sense of humor?
- Do you have a zest for life? Do you find and share joy? Do you have enthusiasm and energy?
- Are you curious?
- Do you work on learning and growing?
- Are you open minded?
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” ~ Helen Keller
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” ~ Abe Lincoln