IT is through character that we develop qualities like persistence, self-control, curiosity, conscientiousness, grit, self-confidence, thoroughness, self-organisation, and deliberation, all of which are necessary for achieving our life’s goals. But building character is not easy; it can only be developed by a process of encountering and overcoming challenges. Today many children from affluent families, whose childhood and teenage are financed and regulated by their parents, miss the chance of experiencing real failure; they don’t know how to struggle against adversity and so they are unable to build their character.
Children from poor backgrounds, face no dearth of challenges. They are plagued with shortage of food, medical care; in many cases, the early days of their life is spent in dysfunctional schools and neighbourhoods. They have little outside support to help them in turning these omnipresent obstacles into character-enhancing triumphs. In most cases, they fail to overcome the myriad problems in their life and there is nothing to break their fall as they sink deeper and deeper into the nadir of adversity. Both the extremes of childhood are bad for character building.
However, most middle class people do not face the kind of challenges that the affluent and the poor people face. If there are challenges, the middle class background offers some opportunities for overcoming them. When it comes to dealing with crisis, people respond in different ways. Some of us might want to impulsively go with our gut feeling, while others may want to talk things over with their friends, colleagues, or families. Whatever be the path that you have chosen to deal with any crisis, the decisions you take and their outcomes will form the basis of your character.
There can come in life situations, where you have to take tough ethical decisions. An ethical decision is something that will have you taking a stand between two options, one that you know to be right and the second, which according to your own sense of morality, can be wrong. A defining moment can be the one where you will have to make the momentous decision, your self-interest might be at stake in a big way and you would have to choose between two or more ideals. Even the best of people can make errors of judgement. It is your character that will enable you to make the ethical choice, which might also be in your long-term interests.
It is the nature of life to continuously test us through new challenges. Whether you will live up to your personal ideals or only pay them lip service while dealing with these challenges will depend on your sense of character.