One Key Practice that Develops Character

Character is repetition. Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” But, there’s more.

“Character is destiny.” Heraclitus.

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You become what you repeatedly do. That’s hope and responsibility. Occasional anger doesn’t make you an angry leader, repeated does.

Patterns of behavior reveal, develop, and establish character.

Unchallenged patterns congeal character. Intentional responses develop character. 

Choose gratitude:

The practice of gratitude develops character.

The practice of gratitude answers dark-dog behaviors and attitudes that form negative character and limit leadership.

  1. Worry.
  2. Anger.
  3. Impatience.
  4. Sadness.
  5. Fear.
  6. Escapism.
  7. Resentment.
  8. Bitterness.
  9. Revenge.
  10. Greed.

Bring gratitude alongside any dark-dog behavior in the list. Try worry, for example. Gratitude won’t eliminate worry. Frankly, successful leaders worry. But gratitude protects you from becoming a worrier.

The practice of gratitude improves character. Patterns of ungratefulness exacerbate bad character.

You become what you repeat.

Repetition is consistency.

Consistency is predictability.

Predictability is reliability.

Reliability creates opportunity.

Action not just thought.

  1. Don’t wait to feel grateful to practice gratitude. Remember, “We are what we repeatedly do.”
  2. Don’t pretend. You may not be grateful for the problem your teammate just brought. But, you can be thankful they came to you before things got worse. Find gratitude.
  3. Say it, don’t just think it. Thinking is only the beginning of character development. Action is both process and result of character development.
  4. Find triggers. When will you express gratitude?
  5. Look around for things to praise. I stopped to watch a teenager washing windows in an airport. Finally, when he paused, I said, “You are doing a fantastic job. Keep it up.” Seek out praiseworthy behaviors.
  6. Design grateful responses before you need them. How will you express gratitude.
  7. Establish accountability. Who knows you’re working on gratitude? How might someone hold you accountable? Who knows you’re working on gratitude? What questions are they asking?

What dark-dog attitudes and behaviors does gratitude answer?

How might leaders fully engage in the practice of gratitude?