I strive to be a man of true character. It’s something I admire greatly in other people and something I continuously work on. To me, true character is about being the same person in public as you are behind closed doors. It aligns with your purpose. It’s who you are.
True character is built on core values. It’s by understanding, developing, and living your core values that you can be a person of true character.
Developing Your Core Values
Your core values are the values you most prize and want to embody. You likely already embody some and have room to work on embodying the others. Examples of these values include honesty, integrity, candor, compassion, and excellence.
If you’re not already clear on what your core values are, then take the time now to do that. Get a piece of paper and write down the answers to these questions that will help you develop your personal set of core values. Don’t worry about answering each question with a value itself, just write what comes to you.
- What are characteristics I look for in myself?
- What characteristics I admire in other people?
- What are my strengths?
- What are my weaknesses?
- Where do I need to grow?
- Who do I aspire to become?
Out of your answers you’ll be able to find patterns and discover what truly matters to you, and then you can assign a value noun to those ideas.
Living Your Core Values
Now that you have defined your core values, you face the lifelong mission of living them. Here are some ways to do that.
Keep your values front and center. You can write them down on a piece of paper that you keep near where you work so you can see them often.
Be clear on what your core values look like in action. For example, if integrity is one of your values, then know what behaviors are the behaviors of a person with integrity. A person with integrity tells the truth. They do the right thing, even if it’s not in their best interest. They treat other people with dignity. And so on. Do this for each of your values.
If you aren’t yet embodying a value as much as you’d like to, find opportunities and start expressing it. This is how you take your core values from an intellectual exercise to a way of living.
Sticking to Your Core Values
Understand that it’s difficult, if not impossible, for most people to live their core values 100% of the time. When people are in stressful situations, they can behave in a way that’s not true to their values. If this happens to you, give yourself a break, and promise yourself you’ll do better next time. Commit to living your core values and you’ll see yourself change over time as you embody and express them more and more. This is how you build true character.