Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to talk with Fred Kiel, the author of Return on Character: The Real Reasons Leaders and Their Companies Win. His extensive research provides data that proves that character matters. That same research also indicated that much of the character habits of the world’s best, virtuous leaders are formed in childhood. Fred offers seven steps to improve your character habits.
It absolutely is possible to improve Return on Character (“ROC”) and raise your character reputation scores. Your character habits are just that – habits. And as such, they can be changed. We all have some personal experience in changing our habits. Sometimes it’s quite difficult, but it can be done.
We’ve isolated seven steps that work to improve your character habits:
1. Pop the Bubble
The first step you need to take to strengthen your character habits is to get real! We all live in our own “bubble” – our version of ourselves. Unfortunately, our view of ourselves is often wrong – we tend to believe our own press. Everyone rates themselves as having a strong character – we see ourselves as principled people.
2. Conduct a Cost-Benefit Analysis
Be brutally honest with yourself. You have acquired your character habits because at some point in your life, they were very beneficial. But in all likelihood, some of the habits learned long ago are now more costly than beneficial.
“Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise.” –Sigmund Freud
3. Find the Fuel
The only way you’ll go the next step in changing your character is if you believe that the cost of your current habit outweighs the benefit. You must find the “fuel rod” that will energize you enough to acquire a new habit.
4. Now, Write it Down
The important thing now is to write down what you’ve decided from your cost-benefit analysis. If you can’t write it down and provide a convincing argument about why you should change, you’re just living in la-la land. You won’t change anything about your character habits.
“If you do not write it down, you have a wish, not a goal.” -Steve Maraboli