12 Months of Character Building
Character in business guides your organization. It gives an ethical savor that is apparent to employees, customers, clients, vendors, and anyone else who interacts with it. Character in business sets behavioral standards, determining how everyone is going to act. Character in business impinges on every department and every person. Many business leaders are learning that it is counterproductive to focus only on achievement and profit, without emphasizing the character qualities that for the foundation of the achievement. A business whose employees are developing greater attentiveness, more alertness, more responsibility, and more diligence will certainly become much more successful. A Character-centered business is proactive and provides moral guidance in the workplace. People often choose or reject businesses based on values and actions. Your business gains a competitive edge over others when your leadership builds and models character.
“Reputation is the shadow. Character is the tree” – Abraham Lincoln
12 Months of Character Building
Each Month, choose a different character guiding principle or virtue. The Word of the Month represents a Character-Centered initiative. Each word represents different facets of character that combine to reinforce a series of attributes, behaviors, and perspectives that constitute good character.
- Honesty – Honesty refers to a facet of moral character and denotes positive, virtuous attributes such as integrity, truthfulness, and straightforwardness. Honesty is speaking truth and creating trust in minds of others. A person who is considered honest is one who displays integrity, is genuine and not deceptive or fraudulent. Honesty is characterized by truth and sincerity. Honesty denotes the quality of being upright in principle and action. Honesty implies truthfulness, fairness in dealing with others, and refusal to engage in fraud, deceit, or dissembling. The benefits you get from being honest are that sometimes you get recognition and thanks for an honest deed. But in general, honesty is not something that is directly rewarded. It is a feeling you have about yourself. It is a feeling of pride and self-worth and character.
- Self-Discipline – Self-discipline is the ability to get yourself to take action regardless of your emotional state. Imagine what you could accomplish if you could simply get yourself to follow through on your best intentions no matter what. Self-discipline allows you take action and therefore get results no matter what your emotional state. Self-discipline provides steadiness and stability. And because your emotions aren’t in the way, your decisions are more likely to succeed because they’ll be made from a state of disciplined intellect rather than from emotional peaks and valleys. Self-discipline involves acting according to what you think instead of how you feel in the moment. Often it involves sacrificing the pleasure and thrill of the moment for what matters most in life. Discipline means behaving according to what you have decided is best, regardless of how you feel in the moment. Therefore the first trait of discipline is self-knowledge. You need to decide what behavior best reflects your goals and values.
- Passion – If you look at really successful people, all of them having something they are very passionate about. These people have a drive that compels them to give 110%. Nothing is more motivating than an obsessive passion. Your employees want passion; in fact, they’ll go to the ends of earth because of it, live and die for it Passion is such a key part of being a great leader that if you don’t have it, you simply can’t be a great leader. And passion is infectious: When you talk about your vision for the company, let your passion for your vision shine through. Others will feel it and want to get on board with you. If you don’t have passion for your vision, you need to recreate your vision or reframe your description of your vision so it’s connected to your passion.
- Integrity – The true meaning of integrity is a life in which thoughts, words, and actions are congruent and conform to ethical principles. It is up to the leaders in workplace to ensure employees are presented with values, policies, labor practices, fairness and honesty. Integrity refers to wholeness as a human being. It means that you have developed into a person whose thoughts, words, and actions are congruent, and therefore do not conflict with each other. In the exercise of your free will, your decisions reveal any degree of disorder in your soul. To the extent that you have brought every aspect of yourself into harmony, you can be trusted to live according to your convictions. I believe that well-considered convictions tend toward universal guiding principles that approach ultimate truth, which is both simple and complex simultaneously. Everywhere around us people and situations are pulling at us to forget our priorities and fall back into old unwanted, unsatisfying and unproductive ways. Allowing others to determine what we think, feel, say and do means that we shall become as they are. Once we can see how we are swayed this way and that by the desires, words and actions of others, we can begin to make progress. Then an inner resolve to be true to one’s self, goals, ethics and principles needs to be made.
- Commitment – Commitment begins by gaining ample understanding of a specific pursuit or belief, and then acts to obligate or emotionally compel myself to begin and continue in that pursuit or belief. The combination of a strong, positive commitment to self and to a set of principles serves as a foundation to effectively maintain commitments to: customers, results, employees, and the organization. Effectively demonstrating commitment to others, to the organization’s basic principles, and to oneself is never easy. The truth is, demonstrating commitment is hard work. Wavering commitment is usually seen as no commitment at all. The only way to achieve a reputation for commitment is through determination and persistence. When management supports its employees, they will be able and willing to achieve intended results, when these results support customer needs and expectations, customers will support the organization with their business.
- Determination – Determination begins by becoming aware of a reasonable goal within my individual limits that I want intensely, and then acts to decide firmly on that goal and work conscientiously toward attainment of it. A person who is determined has a firmness of purpose and the resolve to achieve a goal. It is a fixed intention or resolution to overcome obstacles. Determination is a positive personal character trait. A person with determination is someone who is earnest or unwavering in his or her purpose. If there is something this person wants to do, he or she will not give up easily or get distracted by something else. Some people give up too easily. If you are determined to achieve a worthwhile goal, you will reap the rewards.
- Ambition – Ambition is the strong drive for success. It is a positive personal character trait. A person without ambition is said to be shiftless. A person who is ambitious has a dream of succeeding in some endeavor—usually related to his or her career. An ambitious person is hard-working in striving to achieve goals and to move up in the world. If you are ambitious in your job, you will be looking for ways to move up the ladder of success. You will put out an extra effort to make a mark in your job and to get a promotion. Employers like ambitious workers.
- Responsible and Reliable – A person who does as promised can be considered as reliable. Reliability is an admirable characteristic. People don’t like to deal with those who are unreliable. They’d rather give their business and rewards to the person they can count on. Also, the reliable person feels good knowing that he or she is trusted. A responsible person is one who is able to act without guidance or supervision, because he or she is accountable and answerable for his or her behavior. Such a person can be trusted or depended upon to do things on his or her own. Such a person will follow through on obligations. Being a reliable person means you have good character.
- Trustworthy – People will trust a person who has a reputation of being honest, reliable and responsible. Dishonesty can easily tarnish that reputation can easily be tarnished, such that others consider you untrustworthy. Being considered trustworthy provides benefits from the way people deal with you, as well as your own self-esteem. Being considered trustworthy provides benefits from the way people deal with you, as well as your own self-esteem. Trust means that you feel that the person is honest and will not lie, cheat or steal from you. It also means that you can count on the person to do as he or she promised and that the person is reliable. Finally, trust in a person means that you feel he or she can be counted on to do something important, will not shirk from duties, and will take personal pride in what he or she does. Being trustworthy is an admirable character trait. It is being honest, reliable and responsible. Others will respect you more and want to continue relationships and dealing with you. Also, you will feel a sense of self-respect.
- Enthusiastic – Enthusiasm is like any other skill. If it is continually practiced and exercised, it gets better. If it is not, then it will degrade. Enthusiasm rarely comes naturally and it must be the result of conscious effort. Practicing the ability to use enthusiasm can keep you excited and driven. The benefits of enthusiasm are vast. From improving productivity, social skills, and confidence to reducing fears and nervousness, enthusiasm is an incredibly powerful tool. Remember that long-term enthusiasm is a skill that needs to be developed. Focusing on your passions and working on your own personal energy will give you the base you need for enthusiasm. Like a spark, guiding your physiology can create a fiery enthusiasm for anything you do. Utilize that enthusiasm and you can get the most out of your life.
- Persistent – A persistent drive is an asset; it will help you get through tough times and slumps. Practice being persistent, it pays off! Persistence begins by understanding the goal clearly, and then acts to achieve that goal, continuing in spite of interference, discomfort, or other hindrances that may block the way. Persistence is the ability to maintain action regardless of your feelings. You press on even when you feel like quitting. When you work on any big goal, your motivation will wax and wane like waves hitting the shore. Sometimes you’ll feel motivated; sometimes you won’t. But it’s not your motivation that will produce results — it’s your action. Persistence allows you to keep taking action even when you don’t feel motivated to do so, and therefore you keep accumulating results. Persistence will ultimately provide its own motivation. If you simply keep taking action, you’ll eventually get results, and results can be very motivating.
- Respect – The way you choose to present yourself to the world is a personal choice. Instead of being a slave to reactions, you could make a proactive decision to be a rational and respectful person. Every day you get to challenge yourself to improve in some way. Challenge yourself to be as respectful as possible, and feel a sense of accomplishment with every respectful interaction. Respect means a lot of different things. On a practical level it seems to include taking someone’s feelings, needs, thoughts, ideas, wishes and preferences into consideration. We might also say it means taking all of these seriously and giving them worth and value. In fact, giving someone respect seems similar to valuing them and their thoughts, feelings, etc. It also seems to include acknowledging them, listening to them, being truthful with them, and accepting their individuality and idiosyncrasies. Respect can be shown through behavior and it can also be felt.
Our character is not just what we try to display for others to see, it is who we are even when no one is watching. We can demonstrate good character on the job and in our community and encourage others to do the same. In organizations, there must be a form of core values or principles that people understand and accept. Many people believe that they have to compromise their integrity in order to get ahead in the corporate world. We can recognize the vital importance of character to the success of our lives, our businesses, the organizations to which we belong, and to our country and world, and we can seek to influence the part of the world that we touch to become involved in developing better character.
Jamie Wood, Avatel EVP
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