This post was originally published on, Panoptic, my soon to be defunct generic blog.
I often wonder, if I was starting again, how I would discover what my character is. Fortunately I have an inquisitive mind and have hunted down the ‘who and what’ I am. But before I dive into the detail let me just say this – Character Matters.
You might ask why, but first let me put across my definition of character:
“Character is the how or why ‘you’ react to any given situation in private and/or how you believe you would react.”
Why does character matter?
Character is who you are. It creates a consistent person who will react the same way in the same situation. It creates the you that doesn’t cave in to peer pressure however unpopular they become or how much ridicule they receive. Character, in a nutshell, is your behavioural traits. It also matters because it is how others judge (rightly or wrongly) you. Do you want to be judged as a good or bad time keeper? As someone that will keep their word or not? As honest or a liar? And so on. What you decide – and understand this, it is your decision – to do or think in any given situation.
If you don’t know your character then it is highly likely you will believe one thing in private but act in a contrary way when in public. In my book this just leads to anxiety or even stress. Neither of these are healthy.
How do you determine what your character is?
You can ask others and you’ll probably get a list of stuff like; honest, good time keeper, dependable, etc… but when you ask you rarely find someone that is 100% honest with you. Would you tell someone their character is boring or dis-honest? You may gossip about that to others but won’t say it to their face?
Another option is to do one of the many character tests (more commonly called personality tests) and end up with a bunch of letters that define your character. So for example, a test I’ve just done defines me as a “Guardian Provider ESFJ”. The trouble with these tests is that they try and fit you into a narrow box. So you are either one thing or another with no options for being somewhere in between. To me, only two of the letters accurately reflect who I think am. That’s the E & S as defined by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. The other two are only partially correct. For example F (or Feeling) is partially defined as “When making decisions, they often give more weight to social implications than to logic” now whilst I would consider myself a logical person I disagree that I give more weight to social in making a decision. Equally J (or Judgement) states “They derive a sense of control through predictability” which is so far removed from my actual trait as to be wrong. But these ‘tests’ can point you in the right direction.
I prefer to spend time thinking about six areas and answering questions based around those areas:
These areas are known as the “Six Pillars”.
If you haven’t ever done this then I urge you to do so. Sit down and consider each of the six sections above and start determining your character.
Why does it matter?
When you understand the who, what and why of your character it becomes easier to always make consistent choices. It becomes easier to make hard choices. You’ll find others will understand you better or respect you more or trust more or … and so on and so on.
So, let me ask this: Who and What makes you you?