Let’s talk about character!
Character is the last of the three topics that make up The Wow Factor. So far we’ve covered excellence (doing things above the average), and competence (the ability to do something with excellence).
Maybe you remember from our opening post that we define character as doing the right thing–even when no one is looking.
On a more personal level, our character is the collection of attributes that make up who we are. When other people describe you, they are describing your character. The longer that person has known you and the closer the relationship is, the better they know your character.
Have you ever given any thought to what you would like to be known for? I encourage you to think about it for a second. On a scale of 1-10, how well do you know how you want to be remembered?
If you’ve not given it much thought in the past, maybe you’re a 1 or 2. That’s ok. You’ll be a lot clearer once we’ve finished this topic. No matter where you are on the scale, I would like for you to do the following quick exercise with me:
Stop reading, and write down five qualities you would like to be known for… honest? inspiring? generous? fun? It’s up to you. The important thing is that you decide. Being clear on your goal for character development will make achieving it much easier.
I want to be known as an honest person that can be counted on to be truthful. I would have also given this answer twenty years ago. But wanting to have a certain character trait isn’t enough. I think most people would say they want to be known as honest and yet we all know many people that will bend, stretch and otherwise manipulate the truth to suit their purpose. At one time, I was one of those people!
Let me give you an example.
Several years ago my wife and I were supposed to meet for an appointment. I was coming home late from work and she was going on ahead of me. I was supposed to get a quick shower and meet them there as soon as possible. As I was arriving home I saw my neighbor. I had been wanting to talk to him about buying his truck. I thought since I was already late, a couple of additional minutes wouldn’t hurt, so I pulled into his driveway, rolled down my window and had a quick (less than two minutes) conversation. As we were winding up the conversation, Amanda called. I quickly told the neighbor bye, and answered the phone as I was backing out of his driveway.
Amanda told me that they were waiting on me, and asked me where I was. “I’m backing out of the driveway right now, I’m on my way” I replied. I’m not sure why that didn’t ring as true to her but she asked me twice more where I was! I finally felt convicted and told her the truth, which led to a fight. I was defensive. I didn’t see what the big deal was… after all, I was pulling out of the driveway and I was on my way. But the reality is that I was angry because she was showing me a character flaw. I was clearly and intentionally being deceptive. I worded my answer the way I did because I wanted her to believe that I was pulling out of our own driveway and that I was at that moment driving to the appointment, even though neither was true.
It took me a while to admit the problem, I didn’t want to see it. But after a while I began to ask myself “Is this how you want to be known?… Alan will tell you half the truth, just enough to make you think what he wants you to think?”
I began to make a conscious effort to address and change that habit in my life. Thankfully I had my wife alongside to help me.
To deliver the Wow Factor consistently, these character attributes that show up under pressure need to above average. You may make a great first impression or wow someone once or twice, but with glaring character flaws, it is impossible to deliver a memorable experience that leaves people talking about you in an extremely positive way over a sustained period of time.
With that in mind, my specific challenge to you if you didn’t do it earlier is to take the time to write down five qualities that you want to be known for. We’ll talk more about them next week in Character, Part 2!