Siji Loto

Mind & Pen on Fire

Character > Dreams

Most of us have clearer strategies for how to achieve career success than we do for how to develop a profound character…We live in a culture that teaches us to promote and advertise ourselves and to master the skills required for success, but that gives little encouragement to humility, sympathy, and honest self-confrontation, which are necessary for building character — David Brooks

Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught — J. C. Watts

Reputation is what men and women think of us. Character is what God and the angels know of us — Thomas Paine

We hear it all the time, “Follow your passion”, “Pursue your dreams”, “Dream big” etc. Now, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with those statements. But I think we tend to neglect a very important factor to true success: character. We are overly achievement focused. We do our best and work hard to improve our resume. We go through tons of pressure and spend large sums of money going to school, so that we can have a successful career (or life) and look good to the world around us. We develop ourselves to the extent that it will benefit us materially. We think short-term.

Character is born out of love. Character keeps you stable both in good and hard times. Character prevents success and failure from crushing you. It keeps your ego in check. It teaches you humility. It reminds you to always prioritise the important things in life. Character will be reflected in what your loved ones will say about you when you die. Character is long-term.

In the next 10 year, you may be in a different career than you anticipated or you may be jobless. But your character, developed or not, will remain with you in all circumstances. Why don’t you invest as much resources (if not more) in developing a moral inner life as we do your external career? You most likely have some plan for what you want your life to look like. Do have a plan for developing your character? Is it part of your daily, weekly, monthly or yearly goals? Sadly, most of us are simply satisfied with the level character that we have and it’s this: doing whatever we want as long as we’re not hurting anyone and people like us. That is a profoundly low standard. That’s moral mediocrity. We need to think & live deeper than that. We should put ourselves to a higher standard than that if we truly care for ourselves and the world around us.

Good character is not formed in a week or a month. It is created little by little, day by day. Protracted and patient effort is needed to develop good character — Heraclitus

You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one — Henry David Thoreau

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved —  Helen Keller

Developing a good character takes deliberate effort. We must attend to it daily as we attend to our daily physical needs. We should have a vision of the kind of inner life we want to have and a road map for how to get there. I don’t believe that there is a single plan for developing character that works for everyone. You need to find what works for you. Find people—dead or alive—who embody the character you desire to have. Study them, engage them. Find out about their weaknesses and how they deal with them. To be honest with you, it’s going to be hard. You’ll face daunting obstacles. You’ll feel like giving up when dealing with difficult situations. You may want to cower away in fear and despair, because you don’t want to face your personal demons. Self-reflection or assessment can be quite uncomfortable. But it is worth it. You should be aiming to be a better person today than you were yesterday, every single day of your life.

This isn’t optional or something for the people who have careers that put them in the public spotlight. This is for everyone—politicians, preachers, teachers, lawyers, students, janitors, babysitters, artists, business people, factory workers, doctors, aid workers, social workers etc. What do you think the world would look like if every person decided to honestly reflect on their character and find ways to improve themselves?People would love more, forgive more, empathise more and care more for others, and be focused less on self-gratification.

Character development is more important than any ambition or dream you’ll ever have. Your aspirations, dreams and ambitions will come and go, but your character will remain. Character is WHO YOU ARE!! Make your character bigger than your dreams.

 Photo by Jens Johnsson on Unsplash


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