Character. Another View

Character. Another View

The news is filled with violations of morality, ethics, and the law. We are left shocked, dismayed, and confused.

What is at the root of this behavior? Are some people “evil”? I suggest not.

I propose that the source of this has to do with something we all grapple with: personal Character, and these lapses are disintegrations of Character.

So what is Character?

One dimension of Character is integrity—treating our word as our bond.

Another equally crucial dimension is authenticity.

Synonyms for authentic are:

Credible, truthful, factual, real, trustworthy.

In talking, this means honesty—saying it the way it is. Straightforward. In hearing, this means getting exactly what was said as it was expressed and intended, without judging or interpreting or dismissing. Being fully present to what another says.

When we are authentic in communicating, we have a powerful relationship with other people. The basis of our relationship then is truthful, honest, genuine. Even difficult things can be discussed and addressed. Nothing is hidden. There is real connection.

Paradoxically, it seems easier sometimes to not be authentic: not being straight is a better way to get what you want. The irony is that the apparent easier path leads to the kind of headlines we see in the news.

What stops us from practicing authenticity in our daily lives? The pull to be socially accepted, to be admired, to belong, to be liked-loved-approved of. And at times we feel embarrassment and even shame over what we’ve done, or how we feel, or who we are, and want to hide.

Many of us learn beginning in childhood that we must conceal our feelings or thoughts. And so we live an inner life not shared with the world. Thoreau said people “live lives of quiet desperation.”

And so we become estranged from the world, and from our own selves.

The beginning of a quantum leap in happiness, fulfillment, and power in life is to have the courage to say it the way it is. The courage to be real with ourselves and others.

As Shakespeare counseled us in Hamlet,

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

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Barry Pogorel Leadership enables you and your people to produce extraordinary results. Contact us to schedule a confidential conversation.

Character

Character

Each day, our news is filled with shocking revelations of corruption: in sports, entertainment, education, government, healthcare, business, and other fields. The costs are high: severe loss of credibility of institutions/individuals and damage to the personal lives of those people impacted.

What is the root cause of these failures? And what is the solution?

The Japanese speak of kokoro—character, essence, heart, spirit. The Samurai cultivated kokoro in themselves and those they mentored or trained. These breaches of morality, ethics, and law reflect a breakdown in kokoro—in character.

A search in the dictionary finds character associated with uprightness, trustworthiness, incorruptibility, honesty, a state of being whole and complete. Integrity is associated with these same antonyms.

“An individual is whole and complete when their word is whole and complete, and their word is whole and complete when they honor their word,” says Harvard Business School emeritus professor, Michael C. Jensen in an interview that appeared in The Magazine of the Rotman School of Management, Fall 2009. He draws a direct connection between integrity defined in this way and organizational effectiveness and productivity. So too for individuals and teams.

Is your word your bond? Is your team’s word their bond? That is, is it binding? In the daily practice of your work and life, is there consistency between what is said and what is done?

Common remedies are insufficient.

When a baseball player wants to hit a homerun, he doesn’t climb up in the stands where the scoreboard is and manipulate the numbers. He deals with what it takes standing in the batter’s box to powerfully and accurately hit the ball coming at him.

To resolve the root cause of our societal/business problems and to produce a home run in our performance as individuals, teams and organizations, we must deal with what is in the batter’s box of our business and life: our character, and our integrity.

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Barry Pogorel Leadership deals with the root cause of great performance, enabling you and your people to produce extraordinary results. Contact us to schedule a confidential conversation. 

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