Should I invest in my character?

Wow! Good question.

It came to me recently from a young, successful and definitely ambitious Business Director. We’ll call him David.

David has the wisdom to know that if he goes on progressing at his historic rate, he will almost certainly fail to build the strength of character needed to handle the pressures which will inevitably accompany that progression.

How much better then to take some time now to invest in character development.

David was probably asking himself things like:

  • Have I the strength of character to avoid going with the crowd?
  • Will I advocate for something which is good for the organisation but not good for me?
  • Am I honest about my own weaknesses and trying to do something about them?
  • Will I address the issue that everybody knows about but nobody is doing anything about?
  • Am I prepared to have a vigorous debate and accept that I may actually be wrong?
  • And maybe best of all - Do I know who I am, and have I learned to be true to that?

Sadly, character development seems to come through hardship.

It’s why, of course, those who have wrestled with major life problems can be such wonderfully effective people. We may not all be in that category, but if we spend our lives ducking challenges and taking the easy option, then it’s also likely that we won’t have the fortitude to deal with the pressures that come with greater responsibility.

David was going to spend some time reading some good books. We spoke about the work of Stephen Covey, Brian Draper, and Scott Peck amongst others.

But reading isn’t enough, and David knows it. He will also have a think about the types of question listed above, and begin deliberately putting himself in some tough situations. He wants to turn head knowledge into something which is much more instinctive in terms of behaviour.

Character development is another of those life-long journeys. If we look for it.

I was reminded of it by someone half my age.

I’m grateful to him.