Building a better you is the first step in building better relationships, better families, better communities, as well as building a better America and a better world. It all begins with an individual’s choice of what to do next, what to do now.
Choice is an action, not a reaction to the set of circumstances in which you find yourself.
The late Zig Ziglar, who for me is the father of motivational speaking and personal development, said, “The foundation stones for a balanced success are honesty, character, integrity, faith, love and loyalty.”
To grow as a person, at age one or age one hundred one, requires having a foundation built on character strengths. Sam Ewing, the baseball player, said it well, “Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.”
As parents and teachers we know we cannot build a child’s character. We can only give opportunities and guidance. Anne Frank wrote with a maturity beyond her years, “How true Daddy’s words were when he said: all children must look after their own upbringing. Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.”
We need to help our children see from an early age that it is their own choices that will form the true strength in their lives. Success will not be about what others think of them, for that is reputation. What is important is what they think of themselves and their character. We are self-built and that building of character is our greatest success.
Character. Not personality. Not looks. Not money. Not popularity.
Character building is the work we should be guiding and supporting.
Positive psychologists have identified six types of core virtues that appear in all cultures and have found that these virtues are comprised of twenty-four character strengths:
1. Wisdom and Knowledge: creativity, curiosity, open-mindedness, love of learning, and perspective.
2. Courage: bravery, persistence, integrity, and vitality.
3. Humanity: love, kindness, and social intelligence.
4. Justice: citizenship, fairness, and leadership.
5. Temperance: forgiveness and mercy, humility and modesty, prudence and self-regulation.
6. Transcendence: appreciation of beauty and excellence, gratitude, hope, humor and spirituality.
This list of twenty-four character strengths can be guideposts in our work of leading and sustaining our children as they build themselves with their own hands.
We need to ask ourselves, “Am I growing in all these strengths?” We need to model hard work, inspiration, enthusiasm and standards. We need to turn up, roll up our sleeves, and build ourselves, from the inside out, to lay the foundation blocks of “honesty, character, integrity, faith, love and loyalty”.
Building a better you is where true growth begins. And our children will follow.
Take some time each month and review this list of twenty-four character strengths and consider what you are doing to build those strengths in both yourself and your children.