5 Things to help you build character.
Hi! A lot of you will be thinking about work experience, or indeed even getting that first job, and while the idea sounds good in principle, the reality can seem a little daunting, especially as it is becoming harder to impress those who decide who they wish to offer the job to.
Now you and I know that there are some basics that have to be addressed before we even begin to look at what gives us the edge. Clearly being qualified to be able to actually do the job is a start. If you were given the opportunity, could you easily dazzle, by doing exactly what was asked of you. You know, qualified. Unfortunately, because the job givers are a funny old lot, and because they are in a strong position in the whole “Give me a job” game, these people want more! Apparently, they would like to offer work to people who have what is commonly termed “character”.
Now it’s important to understand, that just because you ARE a character, doesn’t mean that you HAVE character. Knowing the difference seems like a good idea right?
Among the list of attributes that employers are looking for are, and this is not an exclusive list:
Perseverance, resilience and grit
Confidence and optimism
Motivation, drive and ambition
Neighbourliness and community spirit
Tolerance and respect
Honesty, integrity and dignity
Conscientiousness, curiosity and focus.
So basically all those things that you have been working on since you began this whole life thing eh?
If, however, there are a few gaps in your mastery of all the above, here is a crash course in developing the traits that will help you to become one with the skills above.
1. A suit of Confidence with a dashing cape of Humility!
The SS Irony was already registered...
Ok, no one likes a winner when it isn’t them that’s winning. Oh sure, they clap, and congratulate through clenched teeth and bitterness, but it’s really themselves that they would rather see up there where you are on the podium of winners! So what do you do? I’ll tell you what you do; you get psychological all up in here! You know what happens when a football player scores a goal? A section of the crowd goes wild! Screaming, kissing, pitch invasions, meat pie purchases, it’s all kicking off! Thing is, none of those people scored, but they still lost the plot at someone else’s success. Why? Because of associated engagement. This occurs when the actions of a group or individual is shared through participation at some level by another group or individual. You score, but we the crowd scream encouragement, beat drums, hurl abuse at our opposing fans through cleverly crafted songs highlighting the off field activities of their teams captain etc all in the hope that we can make it easier somehow for you to score. When you do, it seems so worthwhile.
If you can create the ability within yourself to score, the belief that you will succeed, and when you do, that you will share this with those around you, you create an air of confidence and possibility that sweeps others along in the hope that you will deliver these special associated feelings. You are selling the sausage based on the smell and the sizzle. Ultimately, you will have to deliver the sausage. When you do though, and the confidence seems well founded, take that success, and splash it all around those who you did it with. Acknowledging others for your success creates powerful feelings in others, and develops important aspects of your character, such as Confidence, community spirit, and Respect.
2. Learning from Laughing.
Yet somehow, owner is allowed to operate cycle around pedestrians and drivers...
We all do silly things. Well, you do, so why not turn these sometimes hyper embarrassing episodes into the very things you need them to be: character development scripts. When people talk about you, oh and they DO talk about you, wouldn’t you rather it be you that sets the perspective they have of you? When you reference an episode from your life that shows your vulnerability at an earlier stage of your life, you create a link in the mind of the person to whom you are speaking and yourself. You show that you can laugh at your own misfortune, that you can turn negative into positive, that you can learn from mistakes, that you recognise and appreciate comedy, and most importantly, that you can reference anecdotes that help you to develop your personality and character.
3. He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day!
3 kinds of people, those who can count, and those who can’t.
Ah, perseverance. A noble trait and one that I think we have seen several times throughout history. I should really give you some examples, but I’m sure that you can think of times where the dude had some impossible odds to overcome, and through a combination of skill, cunning, fortitude, and sheer good luck, the protagonist manages to defeat the other guy, rescue the base, blow up the woman, etc and be back in time to throw his hat through the air so it lands on the hat stand perfectly. This guy could take someone out at the drop of a hat, the same hat which having dropped; he would catch before it hit the floor, and kill someone with. You think he can just do these things naturally? No! He had to go through rigorous training schedules, hours of hat dropping, and all manner of evil base destruction seminars. Only then, through his belief in his own ability, does he have the knowhow to get out of the most preposterous predicaments. Now if Hollywood has taught us nothing else, and it hasn’t, it is that what happens on that screen in the cinema / viewing devices you happen to be watching, is not what is happening in real life. If you follow the logical steps that are taught to you by entertainment vehicles, you may find that reality has an evil base with your name written all over it.
At this stage it is IMPORTANT that you review the situation here. Desire to soldier on where you know that you can’t win is a noble act. The thing is, you don’t win. This is because, fantasy is different from reality. In reality, if you know that you are heading for a face plant, stop pedalling, and apply the brakes. I know you have been taught by everything from the Matrix to Star Wars, that you can make it if you use the force, cast a petronus, jack into the Matrix, etc, but that fact is, you can, and should just stop.
If what you are doing isn’t working, change what you are doing. Perseverance is applied where you KNOW that you can make what you want to happen, happen. If you don’t know that you can, through the proper application of your skills, attain the desired result, change what you do till you do know. If you need help, get it. If you think you can learn how on your own, go for it, just ensure that you prepare everything you didn’t do previously to give yourself the widest options. That application of reality definitely yields results.
4. Keep an eye on the big picture.
Like looking for a contact lens that just fell out in the sea...
What’s it all in aid of eh? Just...what is the whole point of all this? If you don’t know the answer to these questions, then the answer is right here for you! Isn’t that handy? However before we reveal the devastating and mind shaking answer, may I just point out that it was you that wanted this. Oh sure, I was the one asking the question, and I’m the one leading you down this merry jaunt into the collective consciousness in search of the gems of the mind, but it’s you that’s reading it. It’s you that’s contemplating what the end result of this prose that offers so much you find yourself salivating in anticipation of the golden knowledge. So prepare yourself, for here it is: If you don’t know the answers to the questions...ask better questions.
Powerful stuff. What? You think that’s a pithy, glib little comment? You’re right. It is. However it’s the Christopher Walken of comments, in that it is wholly understated, whilst simultaneously killing the thought process that created the problem in the first place.
The mind creates problems that that same mind is incapable of solving. So we need to approach the problem from a different perspective.
Much like the puzzle in the previous picture, the end product is the goal we wish to achieve and so naturally it would be a good start to know what it was that we were attempting to create. If you saw a load of jigsaw pieces all jumbled up in a pile, you may not have an indication as to what the end product was like, and may find the process of piecing it together a mite challenging. However, when we apply the right questions to the problem, we find insight, and solutions falling out of our heads before us. I play a game called Magic the Gathering, a card game that has a ridiculous number of permutations that can and will influence the outcome of any single game. In the beginning of my playing career, I asked my friend if he could recommend a really good card, and he suggested a card called a Lion’s Eye Diamond. Now for the life of me, I could not understand the attraction to this card. I could not see its value or worth, and I spent days contemplating why so many people regarded this as a fantastic piece of kit. So I thought about it some more. Then, some more. Then I passed out. When I awoke, there was blood dripping from my maw, pieces of my opponents littered the battlefield, and wolves I came across in the forest tended to bow to me.
Once I started to comprehend the big picture, the background to the question, the world the question existed in, I could see clearly, my way to the throne. What does this all have to do with character? Perseverance dear fellow. A constant, exhilarating, driving desire to complete the task at hand, knowing that the solution is right there, and all I need do is pick it up. Sure, there are obstacles in the way, and your leg may be a bit gammy, and you’ve not been well, etc, but if you persevere, whilst applying new perspective to how you view the problem, you solve more problems, and create and add to your store of successful memories where you solved stuff. To me, that’s a win – win.
5. Overlooking the obvious is easy!
Ultimately, the meekest hold the power...
This of course, is a two way street. On the one hand, it is easy to find all the things that are bad about you, that you don’t do well, that you are not very good at. Oh woe is me, it's all so bad etc etc. On the other hand, it is also quite easy to highlight and promote all the things that you are exceptional at. I did this exercise with a client recently, and she for the first ten minutes of the exercise, could not think of a single thing that she thought would constitute a good thing that she could do. I let her twist in the wind for a while, before alluding to the trophies that she had won in various sports. Her response was that these didn’t count, because they had no relevance to getting a job, or other people’s value systems. I noticed that when it came to listing the bad things, she was like a BBC researcher, citing records, and laying down references and addresses of witnesses, but when it came to what she was good at, nothing but tumbleweed and an empty can being blown down a deserted street.
There are many reasons people have for not wishing to acknowledge their own worth, and achievements. Personally, growing up in London as a 6’4 athletic know it all led to an outstanding career as a sportsman, tempered by my mother informing me that no one likes a show-off. In my mind as a young person, winning, or at least remarking on, let alone celebrating was equated with showing off. So I stopped. With me, and my client, we both did exactly the same thing: we both reined in our achievements by passing them through someone else’s approval filters. My client is an incredibly talented and super fit athletic individual, whose knowledge and experience could easily aid others in reaching their potential. She uses other people to determine her worth, by allowing them to determine where her skills and experiences will be valid or of use. If they cannot, she assumes that neither can she, and then feels bad about herself. This strategy, unfortunately allows others to take advantage of you, because once they see that you are subduing yourself, they will apply this to you at will. If unchecked, this becomes a habit. Imagine how that plays out over a period of time in a) a relationship, or b) a work environment.
This is happening all the time to a large number of people. It seems to be part of our community development, and personal histories. What seems so strange is that when you actually look at your life, there are so many things that you are good at, things that you have done, things you have achieved. Before we look at some of those things, I just want you to think about the experience of a Mr Vic Charles. This guy is a multiple European and World Karate Champion. When asked how he mentally prepared, he said that he had to learn to think like a winner. In order to do so, he would have to convince himself that everything he did was a win. This included getting up in the morning at the time he wanted to get up, brushing his teeth, walking out the front door, in fact everything that he had control over in his life, that led to the result he wanted, no matter how small, was a win. Everything he could control, had the effect of spreading to some things that he could not control, for example the outcome of a future fight. He became so used to the idea of winning, that it became a part of his life. It was expected. It became his norm.
Look at the things you have achieved in your life and value these as standard for someone as great as you. It’s obvious that saying you can move to the other side of the room is no big thing for most of us. Then you do it and say so what? Well instead, say “That was a win; I said I would, and I did.” Do this for everything you can. Give it stages, short mid, and long term. Do NOT call these stages plans, because then you have undue pressure, no this is FUN. Fundamentally Understanding Now. Plans are for undertaking future endeavours, FUN happens NOW. When you utilize this strategy, it positively affects your self belief, and development as a person. You add to your character, in that you have and employ strategies to solve problems in your life. These skills are heavily valued by others, including future employers.
We all have the ability to utilize these strategies, the things we do that lead to wins are all around us every day. However whilst they seem obvious to some, they appear to most the same way I would imagine as water does to a fish.