24th June 2015

It’s All About Character


We often think that as our business grows the problems will go away. It is a fallacy. As businesses grow the challenges don’t get any smaller, on the contrary, they get bigger. What we need to do is to be able to grow our ability to cope with those challenges more quickly and more effectively than the challenges grow. When we don’t that is when we become stuck.

Becoming stuck is extremely commonplace, after all as businesses scale their complexity grows at an exponential rate. So, we are bound to become stuck, regularly and frequently. The question is how do we become unstuck, quickly, effectively, reliably and repeatedly?
If we accept that performing at a higher level tests our character, what do we mean by character? What can we do about it?

Character is the mark left on us by life, and it is also the mark we leave on life. Joan Didion. Said “Character – the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life – is the source from which self-respect springs.” while Stephen Covey said “Our character is basically a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character.”

The good news about all of this is that our character, like so many other things, is changeable. We can choose how we behave; we can develop the character that we need.
Our character is driven by our values and our beliefs. Our values decide our character and our character decides our value. Character is the cumulative statement that our repeated actions make about us; a composite of our habits, as Covey said and habits are changeable. They are not always easy to change, but they can be changed, should we choose to.

Becoming world class in anything will be the ultimate test of character and skill, becoming excellent in anything will be a severe test of character and skill, becoming good at anything will be a test of character and skill. Whatever our aspirations, our character and skill will be tested, therefore it follows that having strategies, rituals and processes in place to consistently, insistently and persistently develop our character and our skills would be a significant benefit.
There is a poster on my wall of Steve Prefontaine and the caption reads, “To give anything other than your best is to sacrifice the gift”.

There is, it seems to me, something deeply disrespectful, to whatever we hold most important, our God, our parents, our ancestors, our culture, our potential, in not being the best we can be.
What is our best? I don’t know, but I do know you are not there yet. I know I am not there yet. If we work on developing our character and our skills I am sure we can get closer to our potential than we are at the moment. Work hard enough and we can become world class.