Mental and moral determinants of character
Your character is a unique combination of mental and moral qualities
that distinguishes you from everyone else. These qualities determine how you
act and react throughout life. Self awareness and a good understanding of your character
is therefore essential for a fulfilled life.
‘Who am I?’ ‘Why am I here?’ ‘Where do I belong in this world?’
These are life’s great questions. Philosophers have been considering them since we left Africa, crossed the Gates of Grief and spread into Europe and beyond.
You have probably asked them yourself in the past, even if not in such a direct form. They are often expressed more in terms of your doubts and anxieties, especially in new situations. When you become aware of yourself and your world shortly after your birth you began to question your place in the world. Today, when you move, begin a new relationship or enter a new work environment you probably still ask those questions.
You are your greatest asset, although often you are your own worst enemy. When this happens your character faults cause most of your problems or bad things that happen to you.
Your character manifesto
Hence, you have two choices. Either you can continue to ignore those faults and let the world push and pull you as a piece of driftwood is moved around the oceans by the waves and the tides. You may be lucky and fall on your feet from time to time. Sadly, its more likely that your life will be one of problems and pain as you are buffeted and driven onto the rocks.
Alternatively, you gain the understanding of your character that will enable you to become more like the rock on the seashore itself, able to withstand the waves and tides. This is the rock of your character on which you can build and grow.
Its not about whether you have what people might describe as a ‘strong’ character or a ‘weak’ character. Rather, it is about understanding yourself and your mental and moral qualities so that you can use them to best advantage, or change them if they don’t suit.
At Living Money we emphasise the importance of writing your own manifesto. This forces you to assess your mental and moral qualities, to address the weaknesses and to set out the principles on which you will act in the future. It is a powerful piece of work that will bring stability and courage to your life.
Understanding your character
It is important to develop self awareness in order to understand your character. This requires a three part assessment.
First, practice self awareness so you know who you are. Define your values and analyse your strengths and weaknesses. Identify those mental roadblocks that lead to indecision or poor decisions. These steps will do much to improve your self knowledge and self understanding.
Conversely, you also need to understand how others see you. This may be very different and indicates either that you are disguising your true character for some reason, or that you haven’t really got to the bottom of who you are. Your objective should be to identify and address any incongruences between who you think you are and what others think you are. Achieving congruency between the two should precipitate a sense of personal wholeness and completeness. You achieve true integrity.
This is not the cult of self, or narcissism. It is simply being self-aware so that you are able to position yourself in the world in a way that enables you to grow and contribute and not be at the mercy of trends and changes.
Your character determines how you act. However, the gifts you possess, whether mental or physical, have a real bearing on the outcome of your actions. When you act you will almost certainly carry out your actions with something or someone. This may be a skill or an emotion. It may be a friend or colleague, a tool, possession or money.
So, it is important to understand what gifts you have in the world. This involves carrying out a personal audit. Make an inventory of your skills and talents. List the physical, financial and network resources at your disposal. Its a good idea to work out your ‘unique brilliance zone’, the place where you are at your best.
We are always amazed at how little people know about their gifts and possessions, especially their financial assets. We therefore coach clients to gain a full understanding of their personal inventories. It is surprising how many then take a completely new direction in their lives.
Why are you here?
Your character is determined by the answer to this question more than any other. The answer provides you with the sense of purpose and direction that encompasses your mental and moral qualities, your values and your integrity. Your sense of purpose ignites your drive and gives you energy. It provides you with the courage and intuition to deal with obstacles. Indeed, it arguably shapes your character more than anything else.
A clear purpose transforms you from driftwood to a rock. Knowing your purpose is therefore an essential part of understanding your own character. It will lead to congruency between what you think, feel and do and how others see you. In many ways you no longer have to work at this congruency. It will emerge simply because you understand yourself, know where you are going and know how to get there.
Of course, it is not easy. Henry Thoreau claimed in 1854 that ‘The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.’ For many, that remains the case today. However, it is arguable that the world provides significantly more opportunities and challenges today than in 1854.
Clarity of character is key to taking advantage of these opportunities. Build self awareness. List your gifts. Define your aspirations and goals. Identify your key personal projects. Decide how you want to make your mark on the world.
The Living Money Blog
In this section of the Living Money blog we will write about all of these topics. We will concentrate on the three sub-sections: self discovery, personal audit and aspirations.
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