Monday Minute | 022

We call the toughest days we face “character building.” Those times when we are tested could be emotional or physical, ethical or intellectual, professional or personal. The choices we make in these moments say a lot about our character.

Character primarily refers to the assembly of qualities that distinguish one individual from another. “Be honest, moderate, sincere”; this line from Hamlet tells us that the term “character” consists of a wide variety of attributes, including the existence or lack of virtues such as integrity, courage, fortitude, honesty, humility and loyalty, or of the prevalence of good behavior or habits. Our character is who we are even when no one is watching. Abraham Lincoln once said, “Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” Moral character is the bedrock of values on which our thoughts, speech and actions are built. Your character is who you are; it defines you and guides your actions. Our character depends on how we behave when faced with challenges and adversities.

When faced with tough challenges, especially when it comes to PQC, my first tendency is always to look for opportunity based on solutions and possibilities. I think that’s part of the character most business owners must cultivate. It would be tough to sustain an organization without some sort of positive view toward the results. The challenge that leaders face in today’s organization is balancing that optimism with a strong sense of reality. My highly optimistic character generally gets pushed by today’s business market, which has little space for nurturing the entrepreneurial character. We are faced with higher customer demands, tighter budgets, and increased competition. When looking for guidance, the results tend toward a stream of “leadership rhetoric” that makes those character-building moments sound so easy. Ultimately, we must face the results of tough love, especially when it might be seen as harsh. Part of having character is about making those tough decisions.