Unlike personality traits, such as confidence and agreeableness, character traits can be built, forged, and altered with a sufficient amount of effort and willpower. In the previous two articles, you’ve learned what the defining characteristics of successful people are. Perhaps you’ve learned you may already possess some of these Character traits? And, you’ve learned some important distinctions between how Character differs from Personality. Now, in this final act, you’re going to learn how to build character to help grow your self-confidence, improve your self-esteem, and become someone people can look up to.
There’s a Lot to it
As the educational nonprofit CITRS points out, the concept of Character is closely related to the concept of Integrity. CITRS (an acronym for Character, Integrity, Trust, Relationships, and Success) stresses that you owe it to yourself and those around you to live a life of integrity. Defining integrity as “being true to your word” through “a moral code of honesty, courage, strength and truthfulness,” CITRS lists some of the fundamental building blocks of Character. “When you don’t exhibit integrity, other people get hurt, but you hurt yourself even more,” CITRS cautions. They go on to stress that:
Character in life is…essential both for individual success and for our society to function successfully.
What Character can do for You
The benefits of Character building largely depend on your personal values and goals. Most experts agree, however, that Character is a key component of personal and professional success. Copywriter and productivity expert Marek Sanders has identified the same character traits in a wide range of influential leaders. In his article “Top 7 Characteristics of Influential People,” he identified seven common qualities that help leaders win people over and gain influence as respected and beloved figures. These qualities are:
- Vision – Rather than focusing on short-term gains, influential people tend to have big dreams and follow them for years.
- Clarity and Consistency – Once they have established their goals, influential people establish an unwavering path forward. In short, they know exactly what they want, and they can clearly explain how they are going to get it.
- A Willingness to Listen – This was a favorite of Dale Carnegie in his classic bestseller “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” While it may seem counter-intuitive, one of the best ways to get someone on your side is to ask them questions and listen closely to their responses.
- A Cool Head – Although it’s great to be passionate, don’t loose your temper. Influential people are able to outline their arguments calmly and rationally.
- An Ability to Adapt – Few professionals can thrive without keeping up with the changing times. Influential people understand the importance of adopting new technologies and approaches in order to remain relevant and effective.
- An Ability to Put People at Ease – Rather than forcing people to do what they want, truly influential people foster comfortable working environments that promote contribution and collaboration.
- An Ability to Communicate – True leaders are expert communicators who excel at “cutting through the noise” to deliver vital messages.
How to Build Character
You may have one or more of the seven characteristics above, but, you probably don’t have all seven. Well, don’t panic. Most of us must strive to build these characteristics throughout our lifetime. Some easier to develop than others. To achieve this, we may engage in certain behaviors and activities that we believe will help get us there. Think of strength-building exercises. But in this case, you’re not building muscles; you’re building Character.
Writing for Thin Difference, Jon Mertz identifies a few of the lifestyle choices and lifetime events that have been known to build character:
- Hard work.
- Problem Solving.
- Resolving Conflict.
- Engaging in Civil Debate.
There are many paths to a stronger Character, and your path will depend on your own unique needs and goals. With this in mind, it’s important to remember: every long-distance journey starts with a single step. Among his 33 tips for “Rising Above Mediocrity,” Martin Arnsdorff lists simple and actionable advice such as; praising others on a regular basis, avoiding procrastination and embracing opportunities to learn.
See also: Personality vs. Character: Are They Really that Different?
Start Building Character Today
Throughout this 3-part series, we’ve explained how important Character is — both from a personal perspective and from the view of highly successful people. However, ultimately, the most important question is how important is Character to you? If feel Character is or should be important to you then it’s time to chart your own path to a better you. Only you can do it, but that doesn’t mean that you have to do it alone. From coaches and academic mentors to leaders at your local place of worship, the world is full of people who know a thing or two about building character. Seek them out and see where it takes you!