Thought and Character
Silence is the cornerstone of Character. From the silence springs the thoughts that manifest.
The aphorism, “ As a man thinketh in his heart so is he,” not only embraces the whole of a man’s being, but is so comprehensive as to reach out into every circumstance of his or her life. A man is literally what he thinks, the character being the complete sum of the thoughts contained.
As a being of Power, Intelligence, and Love, and the lord of thought, man holds the key to every situation or circumstance of life and contains the transforming and regenerative agency by which he or she can make of herself what she wills.
Given this truth, character is the fluid process of molding one’s individuality. Personality is what others perceive, individuality is what you are. We have dominion of our thoughts and therefore dominion on how we choose to think and behave. Man is always the master, even in his weakest and most abandoned state. But then, he or she is the foolish master who misgoverns his household.
When we begin to reflect on our condition, and to search diligently for the Law upon which our being is established, we then become the wise master, directing our energy with intelligence, and fashioning the thoughts to fruitful issues. Such is the conscious master, and man can only thus become by discovering within himself the laws of thought; which discovery is totally a matter of application, self-analysis, and experience. Only by much searching and mining can we become the maker of character, the molder of our life, and the builder of our destiny.
We may unerringly prove, if we will watch, control, and alter our thoughts, tracing their effects upon ourself, upon others, and upon our life and circumstances, linking cause and effect by patient practice and investigation, and utilizing every experience, even to the most trivial, everyday occurrence, as a means of obtaining that knowledge of ourself, which is Understanding, Wisdom, Power.
In this direction, as in no other, is the law absolute that, “He that seeks, finds; and to him that knocks, it shall be opened;” for only by patience, practice, and careless importunity can a man enter the Door of the Temple of Knowledge.
The reality is is that character and competence drive everything in human behavior. To nurture character and competence is the most high-leverage thing we can do to create empowerment. But competence without character doesn’t inspire trust either. Both character and competence are necessary to inspire trust. And both are completely within our Circle of Influence.
- Integrity—the ability to walk your talk, a thorough interestedness of public, private and deep inner life around a balanced set of principles.
- Maturity—the balance of courage and consideration that enables you to say what needs to be said, to give honest feedback, to address issues in a straightforward way, but with consideration and respect for the feelings, thoughts, and opinions of others.
- Abundance Mentality—the paradigm that life is ever expanding, that there are an infinite number of third alternatives (in contrast to the paradigm that life is a zero sum game, that the pie is only so large and if anyone else gets a piece, that means less for me).
- Technical Competence—the knowledge and skill to achieve the agreed-upon results, the ability to think through problems and look for new alternatives.
- Conceptual Competence—the ability to see the big picture, to examine assumptions and shift perspectives.
- Interdependent Competence—the ability to interact effectively with others, including the ability to listen, communicate, get to third alternatives, create win-win agreements, and work toward synergistic solutions, the ability to see and operate effectively and cooperatively in complete organizations and systems.
Character and competence are high-leverage areas of focus that make each of the other conditions possible. The foundation is based in trust and one must be trustworthy and develop the attitudes and behaviors that instill trust in oneself and others.
Remain teachable. Be so disciplined that the emotions of being alive, alert, awake, joyful, and enthusiastic are so evident, that we begin to demonstrate regardless of circumstances, situations, or moods.
In short, live a standard of excellence and commit to excellence. Progress not perfection is the aim. Take responsibility for your character.
Referenced by James Allen, “As A Man Thinketh,” pages. 11-14. Stephen Covey, “First Things First,” pages, 241-242.