Developing character takes practice

“Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” – Vince Lombardi

Making good character a habit

All of us at some point in our lives have had to practice, whether it has been practicing piano, shooting free throws or rehearsing a speech. No one has escaped putting in hours of practice to improve their skills.

The same is true with character development. Character is a habit shaped by daily choices. Without practice, or “perfect practice,” in the words of Coach Lombardi, we will continue with our same habits. By perfect practice we must practice with an intentional focus on improvement. We need to focus on what it is we want to improve and make a conscious, disciplined effort to make those changes occur. Without this, our character will not change.

Where to begin developing character

How do we start to make changes? We look at all of our current character traits and habits. Do they serve us? Are they in our best interest? Do they help others? If we find personal qualities we want to change, we have to have the discipline to practice them until they take hold within us.

We are given opportunities to develop stronger character every day through our interactions with others, how we deal with difficult situations and the challenges of daily life. These real-life situations help us see where our weaknesses are and allow us to build our desired character by how we choose to react to them.

The eight essentials of character

Be patient but disciplined in your approach to developing your desired attributes, accepting one new challenge each week. When you do, keep in mind the eight essentials of character:

  • Commitment — Demonstrate integrity. Stand up for your beliefs about right and wrong and resist peer pressure. Keep promises. Keep your word and honor your commitments
  • Forgiveness — Forgive others, even when they don’t deserve. Free yourself from negative feelings toward people who offend or hurt you.
  • Honesty — Tell the truth and be sincere to help build trust in your relationships
  • Humility — Be fair. Treat all people fairly; be open-minded; listen to others and try to understand what they are saying and feeling.
  • Kindness — Be kind and caring. Show you care through your actions and don’t be selfish or mean. Stand by family, friends, employers, community and your country. Make a conscious effort to not talk about people behind their backs.
  • Patience — Do your best with what you have. Be patient and don’t quit easily.
  • Respect — Treat all people with respect. Be courteous, polite and don’t judge others. Make a conscious effort to not talk about people behind their backs.
  • Selflessness — Put others’ needs before your own.

Tips for character development

Consider which of the essentials you need to work on most, and intentionally practice the small actions that will help you improve. For inspiration, follow our weekly Character Dares on Character Lives’ Facebook and Instagram pages. Or to have weekly Character Dares delivered directly to your telephone by texting WEDAREYOU to 31996.