The term character is often used synonymously as personality, but the two words have different meanings in psychology. Character refers to your moral concepts, beliefs, and ideals. Your character is an essential part of your personality. It is the core of who you are on the inside.
This article will discuss character development and why it is important to develop it.
What Is Character?
In a nutshell, your character is the set of enduring qualities that stand out in you. It is your psychological qualities that guide and motivate your actions in life. As such, character is often evidenced by your actions.
However, character is not the only factor influencing your action or behavior. Action is an outcome of complex interactions between your character, personality, and situation. In some cases, the situational tendencies may overpower your character.
Nonetheless, studies show that your character is a key determinant of how you behave or act in various situations.
For a long time, character was rooted in one’s desire for good and truth. Therefore, it was referred to as one’s moral compass, and if your morality is well developed, you are considered virtuous.
Often, your moral character is evidenced in situations whereby your values collide with the choices you need to make. For instance, if you are a student, your value for honesty may collide with the need to score good grades. If you choose not to cheat no matter what, then your moral character is strong.
Over the years, the definition of one’s character has expanded to become all-encompassing. A person’s character also refers to their intellectual qualities and social qualities.
In his book “Intellectual Character,” Ron Ritchhart defines intellectual character as the dispositions and qualities that shape your intellectual behavior. These include open-mindedness, curiosity, critical thinking, and truth-seeking, among others. People who have a well-developed intellectual character are considered to have a deep understanding of a wide range of topics and to be critical thinkers.
What Is Character Development?
Character development is the process an individual undergoes to learn, acquire, and establish their core intrinsic qualities and positive character traits. In your earlier stages of life, character development happens automatically and subconsciously through the influences in your immediate world. However, as you become an adult, you can be deliberate about developing certain qualities.
Character and personality development is greatly influenced by your environment and authority figures. For instance, children rely on their parents and guardians to model desired qualities and behaviors. Character can also be taught actively.
For example, as a parent and role model, you may talk to your kids about the importance of being respectful, give examples of how to be respectful, and model it. You then continuously monitor if your child is respectful in various situations, praise them when they do, and correct them when they don’t.
As an adult, it is your responsibility to develop a good personal character as it determines who you become in life and what you accomplish. This is emphasized by great teachers such as Jim Rohn and Lao Tzu
“Character isn’t something you were born with and can’t change, like your fingerprints. It’s something you weren’t born with and must take responsibility for forming.” Jim Rohn
“Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become habits, watch your habits, they become your character, watch your character, it becomes your destiny” Lao Tzu
Ultimately, good character development involves instilling good qualities in yourself or another person, identifying bad ones, and eliminating them and other flaws.
Why Is Character Building and Development Important?
It Defines Who You Are and What You Are About
Your character is the blueprint for who you are, how you go about life, your moral values, belief system, and goals. It is how people see you. Character development gives you clarity and deeper understanding about your purpose in life and helps you to lead a fulfilling life. It gives you drive and provides you with direction.
It is the Basis for Personal Growth
Self-development is the process of consciously developing yourself to reach your highest potential. It is a lifelong process that requires commitment, accountability, integrity, and discipline. It is easier to follow through with self-development when you have a well-developed character.
It Provides a Basis for Solid Relationships
Good character fosters empathy, compassion, open-mindedness, understanding, forgiveness, respect, honesty, and tolerance, among others, which are essential for positive engagement with others. Good character enables other people to trust and rely on you.
It is Essential for Success in Life
Good character is pivotal whether you want to have a successful career, business, family, and relationships. It enables you to be focused and resilient in going after your goals. Good character enables other people to trust you, take your leadership, and buy your products as a leader or business owner. It enables you to perform your roles effectively.
Builds a Positive Personal Identity
Personal identity refers to your qualities and characteristics to which you have a special sense of attachment. Character development helps you develop an empowering sense of self, which gives you a positive outlook on life.
Minimizes Stress and Anxiety
Good character inspires and motivates you to endeavor for good and avoid the bad and immorality. As such, it helps to keep you away from trouble. For instance, if you are an honest, hardworking person, you do not have to worry about going to prison for stealing or corruption.
Character is the core of who you are. Personality development is influenced by your environment, experiences, and authority figures in your life. It is a lifelong process. Parents, guardians, and teachers are responsible for teaching and instilling good character in kids.
However, as an adult, character development is your responsibility. It is up to you to change your thoughts, values, and beliefs to develop good character. Having good character strength is essential for a happy, fulfilling life.