Nov 172014 1 Response

Strong Character Is Built Through Significant Challenge

Shrek and Donkey were transformed in their journey together for the princess.

Rocky grew from his pursuit of a title.

Great teams find themselves in the pursuit of a championship.

Mission and character go hand-in-hand. In literature and life, a person finds what they are made of on a great quest and the quest helps make them become greater than what they were. (See: You Better Make Up Your Mind)

Show me someone with great character and I’ll show you someone who feels a sense of purpose in their lives. The purpose is derived from their character, but their character is also dependent on the purpose.

Character is created for mission and mission creates character. The relationship is reciprocal.

Good character doesn’t exist for its own benefit. While a leader fixates on their own character and the character displayed by those they lead, good character is not the ultimate goal. The hope is that the character will aid a greater mission. (See: What Should a Leader Care About)

Leaders see character as a prerequisite to accomplishment. We continue to work on ourselves and our teams because we know bad character can destroy us and good character can aid us in accomplishing the task at hand.

Character is created for mission.

There is always a greater purpose beyond ourselves. We focus on ourselves so we may then forget about ourselves in the pursuit of a greater good.

If a public speaker doesn’t recognize his nervousness before an engagement and find a way to channel that nervous energy in a good way, he will never be able to focus on his audience or the speech he is giving. He must look at himself before the mission so that he doesn’t spend his whole time during the mission compensating for his weakness.

As it is for a public speaker, so it is with any leader. We work on our character as a part of preparing for, and working on, a greater mission. This is also the reason we focus on the character of the individuals and organizations we lead. (See: You Control What Matters Most)

A coach is quick to point out any laziness he sees in a player regarding preparation. The laziness is a character flaw; it’s a failure to put in the heart and work necessary to accomplish a task. A good coach almost always shows the player how laziness will hinder both the player and the team in the pursuit of victory. Lazy practice habits lead to lazy in-game habits which can lead to a loss. Character development is always linked to the pursuit of a mission.

We need good character because of the great tasks before us. Unless your mission is significant enough, your team may never realize the importance of integrity, honesty, courage, etc. When apathy about character development is present, it reveals a failure to properly communicate the importance of the mission.

Character is also created by mission.

The pursuit after something important provides the motivation for change. If someone believes passionately enough about a goal, they are willing to confront anything which might hinder their mission. Bad character hinders every mission. When a teammate can’t be trusted or a leader lacks integrity or someone looks out for self above others, a group’s performance will suffer. Good character creates good teams; bad character creates bad teams. (See: Communication Reveals Character)

Mission not only provides the motivation to change, it also reveals what needs to be changed. Worthy pursuits exhaust us. They demand everything we have. They wring every ounce of energy from us. In this process, every weakness is revealed. We might easily deceive ourselves or others in times of ease. We can appear stronger than we actually are. We can think we have it all together. Yet the testing which comes from fighting for an important mission strips away all delusion. We will quickly realize our need for growth. Weak spots will appear. Character flaws will be revealed. Only when we are pursuing after a worthy mission will we truly expend ourselves to such an extent that our flaws will be fully revealed.

Hasn’t the Army known this concept for years? Isn’t this the concept of basic training? Military leaders desire to break enlisted men and women in order to build them back up properly. They stress the mind and body to reveal what is there. After weaknesses reveal themselves, they can be confronted and improved.

It’s in the midst of a mission that character is most often revealed and changed. (See: What Every Leader Should Look For)

Too many teams, organizations, and individuals fail to reach their goals because they downplay the importance of character. By ignoring the development of their character, they set themselves up for defeat. You might be able to ignore character in order to gain short-term wins, but eventually bad character will reveal itself and will become self-defeating.

Yet when mission and character are wedded together, victory is normally found on both fronts. With a strong sense of mission, people are quick to identify character flaws and make improvements. With a strong sense of character, team members focus less on themselves and more on helping others in the accomplishment of a great task.

Failing to have purpose in your life is a failure of character. Good character was not created for the individual. It is a gift which is to be leveraged for the well-being of others.


One Response to Strong Character Is Built Through Significant Challenge
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