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What’s More Important for Your Success? Personality or Character?

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

What do you think makes a good person? I believe your character, how you treat others and the environment, is more important than your persona. I also believe having a good character gets you further along in your career and life and can be a major part of your success.

I wanted to write about character because I was thinking about it when my husband and I tried a different childcare centre for our daughter. I asked our daughter's instructor if they promoted character-development at the centre like being thoughtful and encouraging them to tidy up after themselves? She said they did as well as age-appropriate independence which was another question of mine.

It was important to me because I learned that character is a better predictor of achievement than intelligence or other things. I was in teachers' college when I first read about this correlation, and it made sense to me. It takes resiliency and reflexivity to bounce back from setbacks, etc. Now Character Education (CE) has been embraced by some schools.

Reading 7 Habits of Highly Effective People reinforced this idea. In it, Stephen Covey describes the difference between the personality ethic and the character ethic. During his research, he noticed the shift from character-based success (e.g., courage, sincerity, etc.) to largely personality-based success (e.g., influence, popularity, etc.). He found that the personality ethic, may be effective for short-term solutions, however, for long-term achievement and addressing underlying issues having a character ethic was a requirement.

Again, this makes sense to me. Think about reputation and reviews. Everything is Googleable nowadays and a poor review or comment can make people think twice about you or your business. A recent example of this is Facebook. With the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the recent whistleblowers, it’s making people question whether they want to take part.

To flesh this out, I encourage you to think about the businesses and people you trust. Is it because of their flashy marketing or the number of followers they have? I bet it's due to something deeper than that like honesty and relatability.

Speaking of honesty, that's something I really value about my clients. I can tell they are being honest because the things they share with me are not always easy things to share. I'm thankful they feel safe enough to be so vulnerable and transparent with me.

As I mentioned, honesty is one character trait I value but there are a lot more. Empathy, accountability, and integrity are a few. As a kid, I remember being drawn to the ValuesTales Series by Spencer and Anne Donegan Johnson. Each book focused on a character trait through a famous person's biography e.g. The Value of Determination: The Story of Helen Keller. Technically, it was well before teachers' college that I understood the importance of character in achievement.

With all this said, can you easily recognize character in yourself or in others? If you can and are able to apply it, especially during difficult times, the good news is it will positively affect your long-term success.


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