As we grow and learn our opinions get formed and take shape. Then the information continues to come in, and the opinions may reshape or they may strengthen.
When I think about a person building their character traits I think back to the four pillars of character.
Self Discipline, Core Value, Sense of Identity, and Emotional Security.
I have decided that they don’t have an order, however, when one strengthens they all strengthen.
As a father, educator, and coach I think about these things for my children and also for the players in the program that I run. Here is the thing, our sense of identity gets challenged. Our emotional security gets challenged so does our core value and our self-discipline. When we get off the path of growth and discovery it is important to get back on track as quickly as possible.
How do you build your character? How do you teach yourself to have emotional security? We all need to start with the end in mind.
If I want to be someone who is brave, I need to do brave things. When I have a choice to be scared or brave I need to choose brave. I need to ask myself the question of what would a brave person do in this situation and then act on that. Even if I am scared! What we surround ourselves with, the information that we take in, and the outputs that come from our actions are who we become.
For instance, if I have my core values and one of them is hardworking then I need to build habits for hard work. Those habits change from goals to identity and I change from someone who works hard to a hard worker.
It is very logical to think about but hard to act on. Our surroundings set the example for who we become. If we don’t like what those surroundings are teaching us to do we need to change our surroundings. You are the sum of the 5 people you hang out with the most, this rings very true to me. If you want to be hardworking, go hang out with other hardworking people. When you surround yourself with them you want to be included and in order to be included, you learn to work hard. The same things go for any other core value that you want to instill in your everyday life.
Be the example you want for your children. Parenting is the hardest job in the world. There is no off, no timeouts, no reset. Our children watch everything we do and our influence is never neutral. If you want children that are hardworking, you need to set that example. You cannot say “I want you to be the hardest worker out there” and then sit on the couch all day and watch television. If you want them to have a positive outlook, you need to show them what that means. EVERYDAY!
All of the pillars of character are important. Self-discipline sets you up for success and builds habits for today that will help you tomorrow. Core values give you a roadmap to make decisions. A sense of identity allows you to say no when you need to and pave your own road to the life you want regardless of what people are doing around you. Lastly, emotional security helps you to stand alone if needed and have faith that what you are doing is right.
As an adult today I still don’t have all of these things figured out. They are not set in stone when you get them and never leave you. They need to be worked on every day. The really awesome thing about life is that we can always change. With a growth mindset, we can journey on a road to becoming whatever we want to become. The real joy is enjoying that journey.
May you see a fork and the road and be confident in what direction you want to go based on who you want to become!