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“The essential thing is not knowledge, but character.” -Joseph LeConte

“Character is what you think in the dark” -D.L. Moody

character tree

Character is the most underrated and undersold commodity in the world today.  Why? Because it has no flash, no bang, no visual appeal.  And yet, when we step back and look at the truly great business leaders of our day and of our past we will find that they possess deep and developed character.  Their influence upon us is based on who they are more than what they do.

Depth of character trumps title and knowledge.  I would rather you go deep, or go home.  And so would most people.  So how do you go deep in your work?  Here are a few tips that may help:

Operate from your values

As you may know, I recently went through a branding process.  I had to lay out in marketing form who I am and what I do.  It wasn’t an easy process, but it was valuable in cementing what I have spent a life building.  I have people question me about why I combined my work and my faith together into my brand.  I even had a friend of mine advise against doing so as I may offend, or “turn off” potential clients.

The truth is: everyone operates from a set of values, whether those values are good or bad.  I just happen to believe in being transparent in what I value so that you know what you are getting from the start.  No facade, no mask, no pretense.

My values come from my faith and allow me to serve clients with integrity and honesty.  In the help I provide businesses and individuals, those two things are non-negotiables.  In his book, Deep Influence, author T.J. Addington puts it this way,

“The most powerful influence we have as leaders comes from our conduct, which is the outward expression of our inner core.”

What does your inner core look like?  What values are you operating from?  Have you ever questioned what you value or are do refuse to take a closer look for fear of what you may find?

Never stop forging

Good character isn’t something you can order on Amazon, or download onto your iPad.  Character is forged over time, through experiences, influences and introspection.  No one arrives at deep character by happenstance.

[Tweet “Never stop forging your character. “]

Chip away the bad, replace it with the good.  Continuous improvement is the name of the game when it comes to character.  Just as we are constantly looking for ways to improve our businesses, we need to be looking for ways to improve our character.

Character develops through humility, adversity, transparency, and clarity.  Character building is intentional.  What are you doing to forge your character?  Are you intentionally looking for ways to improve your inner core?

Let others chime in

One of the best ways to build your character is to let others have a look.  My college-aged son recently asked me to take a look at his life and let him know what I see that he needs improvement.  That’s the idea.

Pick a few trusted people in your life to evaluate your character for defects.  Choose people who will be honest with you, not flatter you.  Don’t ask what is right, ask what is wrong.  Then have them hold you accountable for working to remove your defects.

“Iron sharpens iron”, so make sure that the people you choose also value character.

Who comes to mind?  Who would you ask to chime in on your character?

Without good, deep character our businesses are destined to remain shallow; our company cultures will remain toxic; our customers and vendors will see no difference between us and our competition; “corporate america” will continue to be seen as an enemy of the people; and we will provide nothing of lasting value to the world or subsequent generations.

What would the business world look like if we all spent a little more time on our character?

Are you ready to go deep or go home?