We all surf the ocean called life. Some have ankle straps and never lose their boards. Others squat on the board and paddle, while some fall off. We all approach the surfboard and the Ocean of Life with our character, our embedded – or learned – ways of approaching and doing things. Strength of character is the foundation for life-long integrity and thriving. Good character is not any one thing but a cornucopia of positive traits illustrated by one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. We look to overview these elements of good character, often called Performance Character.
Why do you need performance character?
A lot depends on what people say character is. When we are young, we are highly impressionable, the mind is outwards-going and we seek to please other people. Perhaps in parts of our lives, except education, if teen dramas are to be believed. We don’t know of our character until someone gives us some feedback about our behaviour, our words and from that, they impute and attribute character to us.
- If we yell and shout, others might say we are a loud person; a noisy character.
- If we cry and weep, others might say we are emotionally sensitive, a weepy character.
- If we prod and poke others for information mercilessly, others might say we are a nosy character.
- If we win and brag about it, others may say we are an egoistic character.
Parts of our personality, our attitudes, our potentiality are attributed to us – and this has impact upon us as a person, as a psyche. We all like to be liked by others, so present our best side, our most attractive side to others. However, this does not happen 100% of the time. We let down our guard, and from time to time, people see the real self that we are.
The key point here is that character is observed and surmised from our thoughts, words and actions. So, what thoughts, words and actions go to make up good character? What are the elements of good character? What might we consider necessary in the activities of another person that we might say they are a good and noble person, a person exhibiting human excellence with charisma and character?
Performance character has eight elements.
1. Lifelong learner and critical thinker
2. Diligent and capable performer
3. Socially and emotionally skilled person
4. Ethical thinker
5. Respectful and responsible moral agent committed to consistent moral action
6. Self-disciplined person who pursues a healthy lifestyle
7. Contributing community member and democratic citizen
8. Spiritual person crafting a life of noble purpose
We may say there are eight elements to this inspiring definition of character, but without integrity, we have no character. Bereft of unity of thoughts, words and actions, we are bereft of true humanness, that which distinguishes us from those who behave in demonic and demanding ways, and those who behave without reference to other persons nor any values that might unite us. Integrity is this connection, this harmony, this fluidity between our thoughts, words and actions that are indicative of inner harmony and purpose, truth and peace, love and right conduct.
If we hold one thought, and then go speak and act in a contrary manner to that thought, we are not being true to ourselves nor other people with whom we are in community with. We are lying to ourselves and to others.
If we hold a thought and express that thought, and then go do something else, then we show by actions that we say one thing and do another and are not to be trusted to stand up to our word.
If we hold a thought, and express that thought, and then act in accordance with our thoughts and words, then we are said to be acting with integrity and exhibiting true humanness. (We cannot act with integrity if we are doing something we know to be wrongful or directly harmful to others: this is not integrity nor true humanness.)
We will take up the elements of performance character in future posts.
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