The Bridge of Character

Eight years ago, a man took his 10-year-old daughter to a carnival, and she immediately ran over to a booth and asked for cotton candy.  As the attendant handed her a huge ball of it, the father asked, “Haylee, are you sure you can eat all of that?”

“Don’t worry, Daddy,” she answered, “I’m a lot bigger on the inside than on the outside.”

That’s what real character is – being bigger on the inside.

Webster defines character as “The mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.”  Does your team trust you?  They will if they can count on you to do what you say you are going to do when you say you are going to do it, to be there in the thick of it, to stretch them beyond where they are now, to exhibit self-control in dealing with tough situations and to hold them accountable for results.  Character Counts!  

How a leader deals with the circumstances of life and business tells us many things about their character.  Crisis doesn’t necessarily make character; but it sure does reveal it.  Adversity is a crossroad that makes a person choose one of two paths: character or compromise.  Every time that we choose character, we become stronger, even if our choice brings negative consequences.

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are…the true test of a person’s character is what they do when no one is watching.” ~ John Wooden

Your character communicates consistency, potential, and respect

  • Consistency – If your ability or expectations change constantly, your people don’t know what to expect from you as a leader. At some point, they won’t look to you for leadership.  Each team member already knows what they can “get away with” on your shift.  Do you demand excellence?  Do you hold them to the standards?  Is your expectation a positive, enthusiastic interaction with each guest?  
  • Potential – Trust is built by achieving results with integrity. When people trust you, they believe your relationship has a future.  Are you training someone something new every day?  Are you pushing each team member to reach their potential?
  • Respect – When you don’t have strength within, you can’t earn respect with-out.  Are you leading by example?  Do you ask team members to scrub a toilet…but you wouldn’t?  Change the shortening in a fryer…but you wouldn’t?  Refrain from using vulgarities but you let them fly when you are frustrated?  Respect is essential for lasting leadership.

Talent is not a substitute for good character. To be a good leader, focus on being good before you focus on being a leader.  Character is best learned early.  If you don’t learn it early, at least learn it late – just make certain you learn it.  To the leader, intellect is important, but integrity is more important.  Character shows.  So does the lack of character.  Character shines in decision making.  Mistrust overshadows accomplishments and ability

Character is more than just talk:  Anyone can say that they have integrity, but action is the real indicator of character.  Your character determines who you are.  Who you are determines what you see. What you see determines what you do.  That’s why you can’t separate a leader’s character from their actions.

Talent is a gift, but character is a choice: We have no control over a lot of things in life.  We don’t get to choose our parents, where we were born or how we were raised.  We don’t get to pick our talents or I.Q.  But we do get to choose our character.  In fact, we create it every time we make a choice.  We can choose to cop out or dig out, bend the truth or stand for it, take the quick and easy money or pay the price.  Every choice we make continues to create our character.

Character brings lasting success with people: True leadership always involves other people.  Leaders and followers.  Followers do not trust leaders whose character they know to be flawed, and they will not continue to follow them.

Leaders cannot rise above the limitations of their character: Do you have flaws in your character based on choices that you’ve made?  Do your words match your actions?  We lead others every day.  At home, in the restaurant and in our communities.   If your character needs improvement, then start today.  Search for cracks.  Look for patterns.  Face the music.  Rebuild.  Improve every day.

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.  Watch your words, for they become actions.  Watch your actions, for they become habits.  Watch your habits, for they become character.  Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

“You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one.”– James A. Froude

Bridge the Gap!