In your quest to do well and to compete for opportunities, if you don’t have a strong moral compass, you’ll end up doing just about anything to get where you want to go.
On the other hand, if you have great character but don’t have many skills, there’s a saying: ‘nice people finish last’. There’s no better mix than being both competitive and having great character.
Being competitive means that you’ll maximise your natural talents and opportunities to become all that you can be. Usually this equates to being in demand in your field of work or service because of the value you bring to the people around you and the wider community.
Character is best judged by how honourable we are when no one is watching.
One of my favourite sayings is, ‘Character is the very essence of a person – everything else is merely window-dressing designed to keep others from seeing the real you.’ It’s also been said that we’re all like tea bags – we only show our true colours when we get into hot water. We reveal our character when we’re under pressure or when we face temptation. So, in the big wide-world, when the chips are down, how will you determine your values and define the moral lines you’ll never cross?
Being a person of strong character takes three things:
1. A decision.
If you make a deliberate decision to be a person of character, then you’ll find yourself acting with more certainty when smaller decisions need to be made. As everyday situations come up, you’ll automatically line up your thinking, your speaking and your actions with that one positive decision to be a person of character. It’s the big decision that drives all the little ones.
Your character will be shaped by the quality of what you feed yourself mentally, emotionally and spiritually – by this I mean who you hang out with and what you watch, read and listen to. We are the product of the people who influence us and the media we consume.
We overestimate what we can do in a day but underestimate what we can achieve in a lifetime. Don’t judge yourself on your past bad decisions or failures. You have a lifetime to prove your character. Some years ago, when I was feeling uncertain about what I wanted to do with my life, I wrote a Life Mission Statement to keep me in contact with my values and give me direction:
Yvonne’s Life Mission Statement
1. I am grateful for my natural God-given talents
2. I work hard to add skills to those gifts so that…
3. I bring my best contribution to society, whatever that may be and wherever it is needed most
4. I am accountable for everything I say and do
5. I make no apology for the rewards I receive
6. I do all this so I can leave a legacy to the generations to come and to be proud of the character I take into eternity at the end of my life.
Yvonne Godfrey, is the founder of MIOMO (making it on my own), youth independence programme. She is also the author of ‘Parenting Yadults’ – How to Set Up Your Young Adult for Independence and Success in Life! and ‘Making it on my Own’ – 52 Smart Ways to Smash it in the Real World. Yvonne and her husband Simon have 2 adult daughters, and 2 grandchildren. For more information MIOMO.com