The Value of Character
If I were to ask you to list the top 5 most successful people you know or have heard of, who would they be? What are their most striking features?
I’m guessing they would have, in varying degrees, so-called ‘status of success’:
- Money—they’d be rich and have financial freedom at the very minimum.
- Fame—they’d be famous and, if not celebrity or sporting household names, they’d be easily identified in the streets, on the news, on social media, or in the print media.
- Power—they’d hold positions of power in government, financial institutions, corporations, religious and even sports organisations.
These are the symbols that most of society would deem as being successful or having ‘made it’.
But what of character? The accomplishment of great character is far more difficult than making money—anyone can make money over a lifetime—so is a person of upstanding integrity, generosity, kindness, persistence, self-sacrifice, patience, and resilience not also successful?
Be of Value
Consider again the top 5 successful people you identified and whether or not they are also persons of character.
Now consider whether you know others who don’t have as much money, fame, or power, and are probably not seen as ‘successful’ by society’s standards but are nonetheless persons of character.
They may be poor, relatively unknown and even invisible to the rest of society, and they probably don’t wield power of any measurable sort, but they are persons of value.
When discussing the virtues of success, it was Einstein who put it this way:
“Try not to be a man of success, but rather try to be a man of value.”
Einstein knew that being a person of value is how you get membership to The 5% Club.
Your value to others is the key that gets you through the door of success.
What may surprise you is that you are already a person on value. We talked about this in Knowing Your Value (Self-Worth), so please read it again if you need to refresh your memory.
You are therefore already halfway to being the successful person you want to be. You just need to activate your value by cashing in your own cheque, so to speak.
To be a person of success, think and be of value to others.
In other words, think what other people would like and be of value. Think what other people want.
Of course, what you would like and what you want is important. But don’t just think about what you would like. Don’t just think about what you want.
Your value comes from thinking about others. Your success comes from Other People Thinking.
Remember, your goal is to be valuable. Value to others is the key to attracting the success and happiness you are looking for.
The Teacher and the Balloons
The parable of the Teacher and the Balloons explains this concept of adding value through Other People Thinking in a simple and concise way.
It goes like this:
One day, a teacher handed a balloon to each of her students and asked them to blow it up and write their name on it.
Then she instructed the students to toss their balloon into the hall. With the hall filled with balloons, the teacher moved through the hall to mix them all up. Then she instructed the students to find the balloon with their name on it.
After five minutes of frantic searching, no-one had found their personalised balloon.
The teacher then asked the students to take the balloon nearest to them and hand it to the person whose name was on it. In less than two minutes, every student was holding their personally signed balloon.
The teacher spoke to the students. “These balloons are like happiness. You probably won’t find it when you’re only searching for your own. But if you care about someone else’s happiness, it will ultimately help you find your own.”
Success is like happiness, if not the same thing. You probably won’t find success when you’re only searching for your own.
But if you care about someone else’s success, it will ultimately help you find your own success.