What Is “Character”?
One dictionary defines “Character” as “The qualities built into an individual’s life that determine his or her response, regardless of circumstances.” It is significant that these character qualities are “built” – they don’t just happen to be there. It is true that our character develops as we face and respond to situations in life, but if we want to develop character qualities that lead to success in life it is important that we “build” them on purpose.
Keys to Building Character
There are three keys to building character. The first key to building character is to emphasize the character quality we want to build. We should focus on it and learn about it. If we are building the character quality of patience, for example, we should try to understand what patience really is and study examples of how it works out in real life situations. We can read stories of people whose lives demonstrated the character quality of patience, or whatever character quality we are building. We can give ourselves reminders to apply the character quality to situations as they arise in our daily life. The more we emphasize and think about the character quality we are building, the more it will show up as a part of our life.
The second key to building character is to require that it be demonstrated. We do that by setting high standards for the character quality and not accepting bad behavior. We can evaluate ourselves and our attitudes and actions. Did we demonstrate the character qualities we are building with our words and attitudes and actions? What could we have done differently that would have demonstrated that we are building character?
The third key to building character is to recognize people when they demonstrate good character qualities. All of us like to be recognized and praised. When we praise people for demonstrating good character, it reinforces the character quality in them and in anyone else who is listening. We can watch for opportunities to recognize and praise people for building character.
People are not like machines. Building character requires that we use the right tools. The tools, the keys to building character, are emphasizing, requiring, and recognizing the character qualities we are building.