Saturday, April 3, 2010

Character Qualities

Character First uses these concepts as the foundation for leadership development—from elementary schools to national retailers.

Learn more about each trait in our online library, download the definitions, or contact us for training and resources that fit your needs.

Alertness Being aware of what is taking place around me so I can have the right responses
Attentiveness Showing the worth of a person or task by giving my undivided concentration
Availability Making my own schedule and priorities secondary to the wishes of those I serve
Benevolence Giving to others’ basic needs without having as my motive personal reward
Boldness Confidence that what I have to say or do is true, right, and just
Cautiousness Knowing how important right timing is in accomplishing right actions
Compassion Investing whatever is necessary to heal the hurts of others
Contentment Realizing that true happiness does not depend on material conditions
Creativity Approaching a need, a task, or an idea from a new perspective
Decisiveness The ability to recognize key factors and finalize difficult decisions
Deference Limiting my freedom so I do not offend the tastes of those around me
Dependability Fulfilling what I consented to do, even if it means unexpected sacrifice
Determination Purposing to accomplish right goals at the right time, regardless of the opposition
Diligence Investing my time and energy to complete each task assigned to me
Discernment Understanding the deeper reasons why things happen
Discretion Recognizing and avoiding words, actions, and attitudes that could bring undesirable consequences
Endurance The inward strength to withstand stress and do my best
Enthusiasm Expressing joy in each task as I give it my best effort
Faith Confidence that actions rooted in good character will yield the best outcome, even when I cannot see how
Flexibility Willingness to change plans or ideas without getting upset
Forgiveness Clearing the record of those who have wronged me and not holding a grudge
Generosity Carefully managing my resources so I can freely give to those in need
Gentleness Showing consideration and personal concern for others
Gratefulness Letting others know by my words and actions how they have benefited my life
Honor Respecting others because of the higher authorities they represent
Hospitality Cheerfully sharing food, shelter, or conversation to benefit others
Humility Acknowledging that achievement results from the investment of others in my life
Initiative Recognizing and doing what needs to be done before I am asked to do it
Joyfulness Maintaining a good attitude, even when faced with unpleasant conditions
Justice Taking personal responsibility to uphold what is pure, right, and true
Loyalty Using difficult times to demonstrate my commitment to those I serve
Meekness Yielding my personal rights and expectations with a desire to serve
Obedience Quickly and cheerfully carrying out the direction of those who are responsible for me
Orderliness Arranging myself and my surroundings to achieve greater efficiency
Patience Accepting a difficult situation without giving a deadline to remove it
Persuasiveness Guiding vital truths around another’s mental roadblocks
Punctuality Showing esteem for others by doing the right thing at the right time
Resourcefulness Finding practical uses for that which others would overlook or discard
Responsibility Knowing and doing what is expected of me
Security Structuring my life around that which cannot be destroyed or taken away
Self-Control Rejecting wrong desires and doing what is right
Sensitivity Perceiving the true attitudes and emotions of those around me
Sincerity Eagerness to do what is right with transparent motives
Thoroughness Knowing what factors will diminish the effectiveness of my work or words if neglected
Thriftiness Allowing myself and others to spend only what is necessary
Tolerance Realizing that everyone is at varying levels of character development
Truthfulness Earning future trust by accurately reporting past facts
Virtue The moral excellence evident in my life as I consistently do what is right
Wisdom Seeing and responding to life situations from a perspective that transcends my current circumstance


Building the right character

At your service

Good character is built from a decision made within us. It comes from a heart of wanting to make a difference in the time we are here – and doing the right things.
AS adults we have grown up believing, and naively so, I would add, that the young in our societies are minimalist and insignificant to the goings-on in an adult world.
We have been conditioned to believing only grown-ups make earth-moving, life-changing pinnacle decisions. No one else can manage this seemingly gruelling charge.
Supporting role: What you make of your education today will decide the future of this country. As inconsequential as you may think it is, decisions you make for yourselves today, may in fact alter the face of Malaysia directly.
The exponential growth and progress globally, in the last decade alone, has proved this theory, Oh so wrong! The momentum to change has altered the dynamics of decision-making; crushing the assumptions the world traditionally operated from.
When it once took us centuries to get from dye print press to print and then decades to telephone, it now only takes months to get from personal computers to palm top gadgets. Singular pen drives can today store the knowledge that could run nations and markets.
The emergence of friendsters, chatline, messengers, Facebook and Twitter demonstrates that the young have embraced these revolutionary changes faster than baby boomers.
That the young have been more adaptable to the market revolutions, they have been able to effect and impact change through these mediums much more effectively than us baby boomers.
The impatience of the young to yesterday’s theories and the “used to be’s” is fast defining the growth of technology and economies. Their haste to answers, I must add, is also directly changing the face of socio-political environment in markets; developed and otherwise.

The learning never stops
This said, I often take cognisance that in an environment driven by fast-changing external demands, one that is often out of our direct control, the proverbial question of doing the right thing at the right time emerges. The struggle nonetheless is – what constitutes the right thing? Is the right thing for the moment, the right decision that would endure the times?
The most important thing I have learnt is – the characteristics that make us are the sum of the many individual decisions we take in our lives. It begins and ends with the sum of all the choices and actions we bear in our journey.
I have found that the essence to a rich learning is one that is driven by purpose. In such an instance every small action taken each day and everyday is cast back to a purpose we each choose for our journeys. It is these small actions and decisions that culminate to making us and the future we build for ourselves. It cultivates the character and attitude we will each sow in our own unique and individual paths.
No matter what we choose to do, we require knowledge and education in a form and fashion. Be that medicine, law, drama and arts, journalism or even taking up public service. It is this knowledge and learning that provides the much needed common sense in our daily choices. Common sense comes with much knowledge, learning and exposure.
When we choose a purpose-driven path of seeking knowledge, learning becomes a culture and a habit. The excellence we aim in education no longer intimidates. It is within our reaches and grabs. The world before us becomes a globe filled with learning opportunities no matter the difficulties.
I am convinced that it is the strength of education and knowledge that will have you shine as individuals in a noisy room of talents. By talents I don’t mean the listing of As, but that, and much more. That you stand out as individuals aware of global happenings. You are well read and you have honour as a human being.
You exude maturity and wisdom, regardless of age, in your decision makings. This is reflected in how you treat yourselves and others, especially the weakest amongst us. You are able to handle differences maturely and accept criticisms positively as a tool to growth. You are well adapted and adjusted to serve and shine wherever you travel in the world.

The subject of character
In reminiscing our lives and choices we make, we will find that the one thing evident every time in all situations is our character. In each and every situation we participate in, our character is always mirrored in that situation.
I cannot overemphasise how important this period of your life is. The learning of good morals and setting of crystal clear boundaries of rights and wrongs will define the path and pattern you will set for your own journeys and how that journey shall impact the world around you.
It has been said – “Good character is more to be praised than outstanding talent. Most talents are to some extent a gift.
Good character, by contrast, is not given to us. We have to build it piece by piece — by thought, choice, courage and determination.”
Character is built from a decision made within us. It comes from the heart of wanting to make a difference in the time we are here. Where there is strength in character, you will execute the same sound actions whether being watched by many, by one or by no one.
It will not matter whether your parents are watching over you, your teachers and lecturers are grading you, your peers judging you or your bosses checking on you. You will act and deliver to form, with or without an eye over you. This is the fundamental to being true to yourself; it is the crux of good character-building – it is doing the right thing, every time.
In the final analysis, it is your day-to-day decisions that will reveal your true self and potential to the world.
It is this self that will beckon opportunities and open doors. It is this self that will attract sustainable success and senior investments of trust by many in you. It is this strength in character that will stay long after you are gone. The work and deeds that you leave behind will speak louder than your own voices.
That is what our places of education must imbue and instil in our young and youth. Individuals with the strength in character of doing the right thing!

Heartbeat of nation’s future
Youths are the heartbeat of Malaysia’s future. As its heartbeat, you must each build and focus on good character building. Higher learning institutions must concentrate, motivate and reward good character building in all their curriculums. A character that will have you excel as individuals in your studies, excel in being a good child and a parent in time to your own children, a character that contributes to the building of our nation, its society and its future.
A character that will brave times and situations because the core is founded with strength and substance of knowledge!
No matter the teachers who have stood to inspire you or the leaders who have influenced your ideas and views of life, the responsibility of your lives lies with you. Governments can set standards of achievements, society can offer moral support in your quest of knowledge and lecturers can demand excellence through teachings and assessments of you.
But even with the most devoted parents, the most dedicated government policies and actions, the most encouraging educators and the best universities – none matters if you don’t decide the fundamental questions for yourselves – the life you wish to lead, the character you wish to carry and the responsibilities you want to fulfil as individuals given the blessings to experience this life.
The responsibility of your life starts with you. What you make of your education today will decide the future of this country. As inconsequential as you may think it is, decisions you make for yourselves today, may in fact alter the face of Malaysia directly. How you see education and respond to the learning of life will determine whether as a nation we can meet our greatest challenges set by the future.
The future in your hands
These are times when what seemed impossible a few years ago is now passé. We can barely fathom the waves of change that are to be. We could redefine medical, science and technology landscapes to heights not known to the minds today. But none of these achievements and conquests will come to serve well if in your youth today, you do not set the stage for what you wish to be remembered for. You do not set the purpose to your own lives here and beyond.
The exposure, knowledge and discipline you build in your youth will serve an immeasurable asset in your adult life. It is this asset that will define and decide your own impact on yourself, your families, the society and nation.
Lasting success, I am convinced, always knocks on the doors of those who choose knowledge, responsibility, fairness and humility as their partners. It is our duty to ensure that the young who make over 35% of our population are blessed with good knowledge and education.
It is my hope that the topic of character will be placed rigorously in panel sessions on KPI, KRA for Nation Building. That KPIs and KRAs are built based on the essence of good character – one that will always have them do the right thing each time, every time. One that will have you go to bed a better person than the one who woke up that morning.
> This is an excerpt of the Keynote Address delivered by Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan, Chief Secretary at the KSN Lecture 2009 at Universiti Teknology Mara.