It seems like most of the self-development gurus these days are talking more about what you do and how you do it rather than who you are. There are tons of resources on productivity, mindfulness, etc. But I believe that who you are is, if not more important, certainly just as important as what you do and how you do it.
That’s why one of my core values is Always becoming. We have all kinds of influences pushing our character in different directions. We need to take deliberate control over that direction rather than letting it be something that we fall into.
There are lots of great character attributes to aspire to, integrity, perseverance, etc. But there are three characteristics that are prerequisites to developing all of the others. I’ll briefly outline them here. Then we explore them in more depth in the future.
In order to deliberately shape your character, you first need to be aware of it. You need to be conscious of how you act and, to some degree, why you act the way that you do. There are different types of self-awareness. Sometimes it can come from reflection. But often, it also has to be something we can recognize in the moment.
Once you are aware of how you are acting and why you need to be present enough and in control enough to make changes, this takes a lot of practice, and the method of application can be different depending on the situation.
With self-awareness and self-control, you now have the skills to direct your character. But the third and final key is equally important. You need to realize that this is a process without a destination. There is no perfection when it comes to character in general or even to any of the specific attributes about it. And the reality is we can and will mess up. What we can’t do is give up. We have to learn to let mistakes go so that we can keep improving.