Character, a word not often used to describe people, which is unfortunate. Character is built when we are alone, when we think no one sees and yet we still do the right thing. Character is what we want in our friends, partners, business associates and leaders, however it is tough to build and even easier to destroy. Character is knowing, trusting, and experiencing that someone does what is right no matter the outcome. They know it is right so they do it anyway.
I was working with a young leaders and something happened. After the “thing” happened they each had to choose how they would behave and react. Several did the right thing, several took advantage of the situation or played the victim, and one poor fellow did nothing. He later told me he thought he wold be ok as no one “who was important” saw him. In that statement he told me all I needed to know about his character. My guess is no one ever talked to him about what happens to the things we think are not seen AND how that impacts how we think about ourselves. Eventually all those “things” come out, either publicly or in our own behaviors and how we feel about ourselves. Nothing stays hidden.
Months later I encountered that fellow who thought no one was watching. He asked me for some feedback and I shared with him my insights into behavior about the “thing”. He was shocked. He told me he never thought about it that way. I told him it didn’t matter if “important” people saw, lots of people saw and they all were important. His audience built a picture of his character and that would live with them forever. I encouraged him to think about the leader he wants to be both in front of and behind the scenes. I then quoted this quote and he wrote it down.
Character is who we are when we think no one is looking. During those times we set a behavior pattern and start lying to ourselves if we think the “thing” is not important. Being able to sleep at night knowing the right thing was done, no matter who saw it, THAT is character worth building.