Character…Who you are when no one’s looking.


It’s been on my mind this week –

Last week, Coach V (Gracie’s basketball coach) said to her teams:  “You won’t play basketball forever…but you will have character forever…”  She asked the girls to think about who they are, and who they strive to be.  To do some homework, and think about what their greatest character strength is, and what they’d most like to develop.

I know adults that can’t verbalize this about themselves – so to see a group of 10 and 11 year old girls be able to identify what sets them apart, and what makes them who they are, and then to really honestly identify what they want to become better at, was inspiring.  Their greatest individual character strengths were put on their shooting shirts…

“Hard Work”

Just after that team meeting, I was conducting a workshop on Leadership with a group of managers and leaders – I asked them to think about their values, their character, and in turn their leadership philosophy…It wasn’t as simple as you might think…One person asked “Do you mean our values at work?  Or at home?”

To which I responded “why would they be different?”  Your Character is who you are…all the time.  It represents your values, and what’s important to you.  It is a definition of who you are…and, when you’re in integrity, you’re the same person no matter who you’re with and where you are…even when it’s not easy.

My character strengths are “Humor”, “Honesty”, “Fairness”  and “Social Intelligence”…When I’m not in integrity with my character strengths and values, I become physically ill…so I simply won’t do it anymore.

Sometimes this makes me difficult…sometimes I’m a pain in people’s butts.  I respectfully do not care.  What I hope this means is that while I might not always make things easy for people, I can always be trusted to be honest. I can be trusted to be fair.  And when people don’t like that, I’m ok – they’re not my people.

I also have some work to do…My lowest character strengths are “Self-Regulation” and “Forgiveness”…I can certainly do better – so this year I will be focusing on self-regulation (discipline), and forgiveness (accepting other people’s shortcomings). Watching 11 little girls be able to honestly assess their strengths and weaknesses gives me great hope, and inspires me to embrace my strengths, and develop my own weaknesses, alongside my friends, my family, my clients….

This year, what will  you do?

Be uncompromisingly you – whatever that is.

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