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Day 15: Our character and values matter

"Our character is what we do when no one is looking" - unknown

I have spent a lot of time writing about the need for us to understand ourselves and our core beliefs so that we can develop the right mindset to set audacious goals and so that we can set goals that are aligned with who we are and with what we determine our purpose on earth to be. Now that we have explored how to develop plans in various areas or dimensions of our lives, we need to ensure that we have developed the suitable systems and processes to help us achieve those goals. Yesterday we explored how having the proper habits and rituals can reach specific goals. Today, we move on to how our character and values can also support us in achieving our goals.

Let's start with some definitions: Character is defined as "the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of a person. Values are defined as "principles or standards of behaviour and one's judgment of what is essential in life. In short, our character and values determine our behaviours, and our behaviours will either move us closer to our goals or farther from our goals.

The first character trait that we need to have to ensure that we live up to the goals that we have set for ourselves is integrity. This means we need to honour the promise we have made to wake up earlier, work out more, eat healthier, go back to school, or whatever other goal we have set for ourselves. If we haven't developed integrity, then we won't find it necessary to follow through with our plans. Therefore, our character can be a good indicator of whether we will indeed implement our actions.

Show me your bank statement, and I will show you your values - Joe Duncan

In the same way, we need to understand ourselves and the values that guide our lives. If we can justify why we can spend more than we earn in any given month, then it won't be easy for us to meet the goal of becoming debt-free that we may have set for the coming year. If we live to impress other people as part of our value system, we will find ourselves getting into even more debt no matter how much we try to live a debt-free life. Once again, the intention is not to make anyone feel shame about their character and their values, but it is to help us interrogate whether our character and values will serve our vision and our goals or not. And in areas where we find that our character and current values do not serve us, we have to work out how we are going to improve our character and how we will exchange the values that sabotage us with values that will help us reach our potential.

This exercise may require deep introspection and the help of our immediate friends and family members that we trust. We need to ask, "what about do you think serves my ambitions, and what about me do you think sabotages my ambitions?". Then we need to be committed to working through the things that sabotage us to develop a different path for ourselves.

Sometimes we may be fooled into thinking that we don't have to interrogate our characters and values because they can get us to the top without being adequately managed. However, a weak character and poor values only result in unsustainable success. Stories like that of Elizabeth Holmes, who went from being the youngest billionaire to being convicted of fraud only 15 years later, show the importance of developing exemplary character and having good values as a critical part of being an ambitious person. Nowadays, celebrities who have managed to get great success in a short space of time fall from glory every other day because of having shady characters and questionable values. This means that the point of meeting our goals and reaching our vision is not to pursue success at all costs but to pursue it sustainably.

In order for us to understand our characters and our values, we need to look at our behaviour in the various dimensions of our lives. How we spend our time, our money and other resources is a good indicator of our character and of what we hold very dear to us. We also need to remember that our character is very much influenced by our experiences growing up, and the relationships we developed in our childhood. Therefore, the good and the bad aspects of our characters, are very much linked to our mental and emotional health. Furthermore, we need to think of our character not as something that is fixed and therefore cannot change, but that can be intentionally developed, with the right interventions.

The same applies to our values. For example, how we were raised to think about food can influence our values around our nutritional health and physical fitness. Therefore, we need to know that we can work on developing the right values that serve our purpose as part of our growth and development journey. However, it will take also require us to be very intentional.


Journal Reflections

  1. List your top character traits and reflect on whether they serve or sabotage your purpose? What new character traits do you need to develop to reach your goals?

  2. List your values and reflect on whether they serve or sabotage your purpose? What new values do you need to develop to reach your goals?


Tools and resources


Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I am a passionate leader, accomplished professional and a mentor. I believe that nation-building depends on how well we build people. Therefore, my mission is to contribute to the personal, professional and leadership development of people to empower them to reach their highest potential.

I do this through a mentorship program that I founded and through this blog where I share principles I've applied and insights I've gained in the past twelve years of my career and leadership journey.

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