Want a true test of your character? Try answering these questions . . . Does your spouse respect you? Do people view you as humble? Do your co-workers trust you to do the right thing? Do your children feel safe talking with you? Can the people around you depend on you? Are you seen as someone who will reveal the truth even when it could cause hardship in your life? When you are wrong, do you admit it and make changes?
If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, how do you really know you’re right?
I heard once that a true testament to a man’s character is in how he is viewed by his wife and children. In thinking about this recently, it occurred to me that there is a lot of truth to that! Of course it doesn’t only apply to men, it also applies to women and how they are viewed by their husbands and children, but it also applies to all of our relationships, our coworkers, friends, neighbors, small groups, and even the general public that you come in contact with.
We all want to be seen as having good character, but it’s amazing how our brains can focus on the good character things that we do and deny the not-so-pretty parts. We often project onto the people around us the image of ourselves that we want them to see. Eventually, however, if we are willing to look, there usually is some evidence mounting that we can no longer deny indicating that maybe we need to make some changes. These might be character issues such as . . .
- Explosive anger
- Inability to admit you are wrong
- Lying/Hiding/Keeping Secrets
- Overbearing Opinions
- Closed To Others Ideas
If you want to know what your character is truly like, you have to be willing to effectively do a 360º review of yourself. A 360º review is a poll of all the people around you – peers, friends, colleagues, multiple generations of your family, etc. – and see what they have to say about you. More importantly, you have to be willing to hear what the people around you have to say. Granted, they might have a bit of bias based upon their life experience that doesn’t involve you, but a person of true character can hear and is willing to examine the feedback without argument or defense. If you really want the truth, you would need to collect the data before you begin to draw conclusions. Most of us just look at what we want to see, and draw our conclusions about ourselves from that!
Look at the relationships around you. Do the people who have to work closely with you have high turn over rates? Do you have strings of friendships and/or romantic relationships that are short in duration? Are your relationships with your children or other family members distant? If you look at the relationships around you and you see tumbleweeds blowing because you have run everyone off, you might need to look at what you could be doing to contribute to this situation. If, on the other hand, the relationships around you are more long term, warm, loving, giving, and balanced where people see you as safe and approachable and feel valued by you, then you are probably doing a pretty good job with your character, so keep up the good work!
I urge you to have the courage to examine your character in this way and see what you come up with. It could be that you find something that needs some work. If so, it’s not the end of the world, but it could be the beginning of a whole new world for you and the people around you!!