How To Find Out If You’re A Tricky Character
Let me be completely and brutally honest with you today.
I’ve been a thief, I have claimed credit for things I have not done, I have lied and harboured resentments. I am easy prey to addictions (smoking is the worst on this list). I tell you this because I want you to be brutally honest with yourself about who you really are.
Are YOU brave enough to do it?
If you want to make a Greek person misty eyed, just say: ‘Philotimo’. It’s a powerfully evocative yet subtle word that symbolises courage, generosity, duty, honour, empathy and humility.
It’s about giving to others without wanting anything back for yourself, except perhaps love and appreciation.
I’m not Greek but sometimes I wish I was. Philotimo is a way of behaving which I have struggled all my life to evolve and build into my nature. We call it ‘character.’ It’s the essence of who we are.
Here’s how you can constantly ‘check in’ with what your true character is, at this very moment in your life:
YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR REAL CHARACTER IS WHAT YOU DO WHEN NO-ONE IS WATCHING.
I know what I do when no-one is watching and it’s not always pretty. I have stolen things from hotel rooms, I am always looking for praise and if you ever see me at an all-you-can-eat buffet, please, look away. I can be jealous and envious too.
There are, of course, also some good stuff and character traits, I promise. Along with this there is also some fantastic news.
You see, your character evolves over your lifetime and just as values evolve, your character is a constant work-in-progress.
“Character is the mask left on you by life, and the mark we leave on life.”
Observe yourself on how develop your character over the years. You can work towards changing what you don’t like and nurture and strengthen what you do like about yourself.
Don’t make the mistake of ever confusing character with reputation though. These two are worlds apart. Reputation is what others say of you and this is something you cannot control. Character is who you really are and this is completely within your control. I read somewhere that character is like a tree and reputation is like a shadow. The shadow is what you and others think of it but the tree, you see the tree is a real thing. Take care of it.
John Gardner, speaking to the Stanford Alumni Society 61 years after graduating, puts it this way: “You find the world loves talent, but pays off on character.”
CHARACTER IS ACTION. CHARACTER IS DESTINY.
Character is your personal integrity, without which it is impossible to be honest with ourselves. Vince Lombardi, coach of the Green Bay Packers: “From self-knowledge we develop character and integrity. And from character and integrity comes leadership.”
Integrity is a centerpiece of our capacity for happiness. It begins with humility.
“It’s your life – but only if you make it so. The standards by which you live must be your own standards, your own values, your own convictions in regard to what is right and wrong, what is true and false, what is important and what is trivial. When you adopt the standards and the values of someone else or a community or a pressure group, you surrender your own integrity. You become, to the extent of your surrender, less of a human being.”
Know and observe yourself and your character. Work on it daily and observe your failures and improvements. You must forgive the weaknesses and the ugly bits, we all struggle with them. Embrace the positive character traits and evolve the values you admire in yourself. Strengthen them and realise that this life you’re living is a journey we all have to go through. It’s pretty damned fascinating if you ask me.
Do you know what your character is today? What can YOU do to build and strengthen it?
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