Character Counts … Or, does it?
Updated: Jul 1
Throughout elementary school, “Character Counts” is consistently communicated, expected and recognized. Posters in the hallways and rooms, significant components of the report card, awards and disciplinary actions all contribute to the creation and maintenance of a positive and productive culture. But, then what?
Unfortunately, as we have grown up, parental, peer and societal expectations of attractiveness, career and accomplishment are many times prioritized over foundational values. In the home, amongst friends, at school and eventually at work, individual and organizational goals are achieved at the expense of character.
The lack of a continued focus on attributes of Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship has resulted in increasing levels of negative behavior including bullying, corporate fraud, discrimination, harassment and violence. Sure, there is plenty of blame to go around. However, we should focus on our individual part because that is where we have ultimate control.
Are we honest in what we say and do?
Are we self-aware and self-disciplined?
Do we listen to understand?
Do we respond to anger and disagreements in a productive way?
Are we accepting of individual differences?
Do we make healthy choices?
Are we good neighbors?
Do we protect our environment?
Almost as critical, do we hold others accountable for displays of character? The goal of Character Counts is the development of healthy and productive cultures. What are we allowing by our lack of feedback to friends, family, colleagues and leaders? Do we ignore what may seem trivial like cigarette butts being tossed out the window? Do we accept more recently highlighted negative actions of disrespectful comments and dangerous behaviors? What is the true impact of our individual lack of voice?
The current trend is not positive. The more power you have and positions of authority you attain, the less character seems to count. The news suggests that the further we travel from elementary school, the less “elementary” character becomes. Do your part and make character count for yourself and those around you, including people in positions of influence. Help bend the character curve!