Friday, March 6, 2015

The 3 C's of Leadership; Part 2

Some of us are real characters. You probably know a few people who are so distinctive in the way they interact with the people around them that they have acquired the tag by those who know them as a character. That can be good or bad, depending on how the character you know speaks, behaves and interacts with others. You may be a character, yourself. If so, I hope you are one that those around you enjoy.

The 2nd "C" - Character

But I am talking today about the kind of character that all of us were meant to possess. You may have heard it expressed as doing what is right even when no one is looking. While that is a good way of stating it, I want to look at what is behind that. There are three primary traits that one must develop in order to become a person of character. They are discernment, demeanor and discipline and.

has to do with being able to tell right from wrong. This might seem obvious, but the current state of world affairs and the number of scandals in politics, media, corporations and in our communities tells us that right and wrong are elusive concepts to a lot of us. So here is how I might define it, and historically, I feel like I am on solid ground here. The right thing to do moves you, the people around you, the people affected by you, and the organization depending on you, in a direction that honors both your vision and human dignity. Discerning the right thing to do honors and adds value to others without diminishing the value of anyone, or placing them on the margins.

It makes organizations successful over the long haul because it earns them the kind of respect that marketing, or even a great product, cannot provide alone. But more than that, discerning the right thing to do and then implementing it gives all of those in an organization the sense that they are doing something or worth and meaning. And because this attitude pervades the organization, employees feel valued, trusted and appreciated, and are therefore more loyal, trustworthy and productive.

Demeanor is the next trait to acknowledge as crucial. Your attitude says everything about you. I would rather have a marginally skilled employee or partner with

a positive attitude than a highly skilled one with a bad attitude. Skills are easier to learn than attitudes are to develop. It is well known that people make all kinds of judgments about you within the first 90 seconds of meeting you. Your attitude – positive or negative, open or protective, welcoming or defensive, engaging or detached – will do most of the shaping of those judgments.

Once you know the right thing to do and the attitudes you need to have, then you have to discipline yourself to grow in exhibiting the right kind of thoughts, behaviors and attitudes. Discipline is not the same as trying real hard. When I was younger, I was fairly athletic. I was instantly mediocre, at least, at everything I tried. But to get beyond mediocre, I had to do far more than try. I had to discipline myself by engaging in certain activities (aka, practice – yes, we’re talkin’ practice here, not the game, not the game, we’re talkin’ practice, man) hat helped me develop certain skills and abilities to the level of proficiency needed to compete and win. It is the same with right and wrong, and with attitude. If you entertain and welcome and dwell on the right thought, if you engage in the right behaviors and actions, if you intentionally put on the right attitude and demeanor, over time these things will shape a character in you that is authentic, winsome and attractive. 

It will not happen overnight! You will need to your mind with the right kinds of thoughts and ideas. You may set aside time each day to make sure you read good books or articles or
listen to podcasts that will add value in this way. You will need to engage in actions that serve others ahead of yourself. It may not even be work related. It may be serving a charitable organization. But anything that gets you outside of yourself and investing in those who can do little or nothing for you will shape your attitude and behavior like nothing else can. There will be setbacks if you are a normal human being. Self-serving attitudes are woven deep into the fabric of our psyches. But over time, and with commitment, you can develop the kind of character that those who want to wish it into being will never know. This is the kind of character that will prevent you from being knocked of course in pursuit of your vision, and it will draw in the kinds of people who can help get you to where we are going. 

May you develop a strength of character that adds value to your own life and all of those around you. May your commitment to doing the right thing with the right attitude by engaging in the activities and entertaining the thoughts that will shape the kind of character that will serve you and your world well, be unwavering and strong. And for those of you willing to acknowledge the value in this, may the grace of God in Jesus Christ give you the strength you need to live a God-honoring life.

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