Six Steps to
Developing Good Character
The Character Council
has developed the following six-step process to help each citizen
understand and incorporate good character into their lives. If you
want to help others in your family, your organization and your community
become more conscious of the traits and characteristics of good
character, the steps below will help you get the message across.
Before you start, It's
important to understand:
- A character quality
is a habit that you can develop through repeated practice
- Good character contributes
With this understanding
in mind, you can help by employing the following six steps.
Grasp Its Actions
Realize Its Benefits
Practice Its Actions
Encourage It in Others
First, gain a clear understanding of the character quality.
If you're talking about the positive character quality of "enthusiasm,"
for instance, you might define it as "Expressing joy in each task
as one gives it his or her best effort." Give illustrations from
history, contemporary lives, nature, etc. From history, for example,
you might point out the enthusiasm with which John Hancock signed
the Declaration of Independence. He ignored the peril he was putting
himself in by signing the document with a signature so large that
the King of England wouldn't need "to put his spectacles on to read
Describe the character quality in terms of thoughts, words and/or
behavior that are representative of those that result when a person
possesses this quality. This not only provides further understanding
of the quality, but very importantly provides thoughts, words and
behaviors that people can practice to help build the patterns of
habit into their own lives. Give an action-oriented definition (the
final goal of teaching character is behavior implementationnot
just knowledge). For "enthusiasm," you might describe the following
- Be an energy giver
- Treat every job as
- Put my whole heart
into what I do
- Do not be discouraged
Notice the circular nature
of character qualities and actionsthoughts, words, behavior.
Possessing the quality gives rise to actions patterned after that
character quality. But it is in practicing actions according to
that pattern that the individual builds the character quality.
Expected benefits motivate a person to develop character. Benefits
fall into two categories.
1. Significant benefits
deriving from good character in general:
- Helps individuals
reach their full potentialin knowledge, skills and accomplishments
(Consider, for examples, diligence, dependability, benevolence.)
- Enhances self-acceptance,
self-confidence and self-satisfaction
- Increases productivity
- Improves relationships
- Benefits and encourages
- Contributes to success.
2. Benefits deriving
from the particular character quality. "Enthusiasm," for instance:
- Provides a renewed
excitement to lifeto both the giver and those impacted by
the energy given.
Begin today to regularly practice the actions that will develop
the habit pattern of the character quality, and to experience the
benefits that result. Tackle enthusiastically, for instance, a task
that you typically dislike doing. On occasion, implementation of
the desired end action may be too demanding to accomplish in a single
step, and may have to be approached in a sequence of smaller steps.
It in Others
Encouraging the quality in others is beneficial not only to the
others but is especially beneficial to the person doing the encouraging.
Encouraging others will keep sharp your awareness of the character
quality itself, keeps you actively communicating about it and possibly
gaining a new understanding of the quality, and encourages you to
keep actively developing the quality in your own life. In the case
of enthusiasm, remember how infectious it can be!
Encouragement may be
focused on a single individual, on a group of individuals (a family,
for example), on an organization of individuals (a business, school,
religious assembly, etc.).
Four common facets of
- Model. Demonstrate
the character quality or an intermediate stage in a sequence of
steps that will result in a desired habit.
Bring to mind the importance of developing the character qualityby
personal communication or attitude, etc.
- Expect/Require. By
attitudes, words and/or actions make clear the expectations/requirements
and, if required by policy or requested voluntarily, hold other(s)
accountable for developing the quality.
- Recognize. Affirm
and bring attention to the display by an individual of a good
character quality, thereby encouraging both the individual and
others. Similarly, affirm the achievement of steps in a sequence
which will, when complete, result in the development of an intended
good character quality. (These comments are provided by Character
Explicitly invite one or more persons to encourage you in developing
character qualities, lovingly holding them accountable to practice
options. When a colleague hears you grumbling about deadlines, for
instance, ask her to remind you that renewed enthusiasm will help
you get back on course.
material is copyright © 2008 by the Character Council of Greater
Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, unless otherwise noted.