People often talk about your character, but what does it actually mean? Often, when a commentator interviews a player after a tough game, they’ll comment on how the team “showed great character”, but what are they trying to say?
I recently did some research on character and the more I read about it, the more I realised that it is not a stationery thing. You actually develop your character continuously.
This was a big aha moment for me. As a leader, your character is something you have to work on and think about on a regular basis. In July last year, author and inspirational speaker, Simon Sinek, suggested that the one character trait all leaders need during this chaotic time is courage. Trying to do the right thing and ignoring the noise.
“During good times, we have the luxury of being stupid. But when times are tough, we have to make better decisions because each one actually counts more and if you make the wrong decision you may not have the time or the money to fix it,” he explained. “Courage to do the right thing, courage to have difficult conversations, to ask for help and to lead. Leadership is not about being number one or about being in charge, it’s about taking care of those in our charge and seeing that those around us rise.” This is such an important and honest perspective, especially when there is so much uncertainty ahead.
All of us have faults and we often just brush these over and ignore them instead of facing them head on. But this research made me realise that character development is about looking at the cracks in your armour and finding ways to overcome these so that you become a better leader and a better human being.
If you Google the word character, one of the definitions is: “a printed or written letter or symbol”. Much like the ones you’d find on your keyboard. Each has a different meaning and the combination of these makes different words with different meanings.
If I asked you to type an email or a letter and there were certain characters missing from your keyboard, an “A” or an “E” for example, you’d have a tough time getting the desired message across. Character development is the same, there are so many different traits and components that come together to create something. That something may be well rounded and appealing or poorly composed and discordant. As leaders, we need to develop the former and actively spend time learning and improving ourselves so that we can be the best possible leader we can be.
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