Practicing Character

“Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught.”

J. C. Watts

When you do something nice for others, like donating money to medical causes or treating the checkout clerk like a human being, you’re doing it out of kindness, but you are also doing it for yourself. And I don’t mean selfishly. Rather, our actions are a byproduct of our character. And the same is true said in reverse— our character is spoken through our actions.

Character and action are two way streets. What you do is a reflection of who you are. Not just what you do for a living (although that’s a piece of it) but everything you do (or don’t do).

Which means every decision is an opportunity to practice building our character.

Patience, generosity, sincerity, persistence, optimism, ambition, courage, charm, humility, encouragement— these are all things we can practice in our daily lives.

If we don’t practice them, how else would we except to get good at them? Magic beans?

One simple practice I like to do is whenever I’m leaving the grocery store, I take my cart back to the store’s entrance. It’s so tempting to unload your groceries in your car, and they peel out of the parking lot, leaving your buggy next to where you parked. What the big deal anyway? I don’t have time to bring it back. It’s someones job to gather up all the loose carts anyway. Why should I do their job for them?

Because you are doing it for youself as much as you are doing it for them.

Everything we do not only sends a message about who we are to those around us, but also ourselves.

By leaving your empty cart where you parked and driving away, you are telling yourself that you are lazy. Alternatvely, by taking the cart back to the store’s queue, you are telling yourself you are hard-working and not to mention caring to boot.

The same is true for anything we do. Holding the door for others. Not letting our angry control us when someone cuts us off or someone loses their temper. Cleaning up after ourselves. Following through with a promise or conversation. Staying true to what we value.

It’s like the old saying goes, “How we do anything is how we do everything.” Especially when no one’s around to keep us accountable.

That’s why I adopted a “Do it Now” mentality. Not everything has the same amount of importance and priority, but taking care of things when they need taken care of is a great way to practice character. If there’s a pile of dirty dishes in the sink, I’m going to clean them now, instead of later. Even if that means I have to unload the clean dishes from the dishwasher first before I can put the dirty ones in. If there’s a thing around the house that needs to be taken care of, I jump on it. If I’m in the middle of something, I’ll focus all my efforts on that one thing, before I jump to the next.

These are tiny things, but they make all the difference.

Because your actions are telling yourself that “I’m the type of person that get’s things done.” This isn’t a blame game. Just because someone else isn’t doing it doesn’t mean I get to point a finger at them for being lazy. Because if I did I would only be practicing characteristics I don’t want to be.

I’m far from perfect, of course. Some days I can barely manage to do my nightly routine and don’t have the energy to clean up the house or put away my fresh laundry. So then I double down the next day. But if I do manage to put away my clothes when I don’t feel like it, I know I’m working my character mental muscles and showing myself what I’m made of.

Remember, It matters less what you’ve done and more what you do.

If you want to be strong, practice strength. If you want to be resilient, learn everything you can about how to persevere in chaos and get back up when you fail.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #902

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Consistency

Consistent action —

is one of the (if not the) most important aspects of Mastering any skill +

To be brilliant,

We need to be deliberate about practicing and doing so on a daily basis.

deliberate — meaning we have to find the most impactful thing of the skill to learn — what’s going to get us to brilliance more efficiently.

For guitar, it’s learning scales.

For language, it’s learning the most frequently used words. (or if possible, immersion).

For programming, it’s problem solving and puzzles.

And then we keep practicing at an uncomfortable level — always just past our current skill level.

Practice Every day — Even if all you have to give is five minutes.

Five minutes is better than no minutes.

5 min a day = 35 min / wk

2 hrs / mo — 

28 hrs / yr —

140 hrs / 5 yrs —

700 hrs  / 10 yrs —  And that’s just Five minutes!

Small Consistent Actions Lead to Big Change +

This is the Renaissance Way

 

#KeepPursuingJosh Waggoner

‘Brevity is the soul of wit.’  Email me (josh@renaissancemanlife.com) your thoughts on this post. Can you reduce the essential idea further?

Priority

Focus on getting the right stuff done, rather than just getting things done.

Getting things done doesn’t mean we’re making progress on our dreams.

‘Things’ can be anything and everything, and can take us in every direction except the direction we want.

Priority starts with deciding what your right stuff is. It’s a choice you make, and is something you have to put above everything else you do.

 

Brilliance and achievement require priority, and everything we do (and want to do) is not on the same level of importance — it can’t be.

If we want brilliance, we have to prioritize our life towards creating it.

related

“Action expresses priorities” — Gandhi

The ONE Thing by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” — Stephen Covey

#KeepPursuing,
xoxo Josh Waggoner

‘Brevity is the soul of wit.’  Email me your thoughts on this post. Can you reduce the essential idea further?