So whenever a company wants to launch an ethics initiative, we at Josephson Institute use a simple exercise: “Look at your organization today – its managers, line employees, and customers – and list behaviors and attitudes you’d like to see more of and less of.”
We use the same exercise when a school is starting a character-development program. Once the desired outcomes are identified, it’s not difficult to devise a strategic plan to achieve them.
This approach can also work with self-improvement. But instead of asking yourself what you want to see more of and less of in your own behavior, ask the people at home and at work to tell you what they want. Interestingly, whether we’re talking about a company, a school, or an individual, the lists are likely to be similar: more respect and kindness, less criticism and complaining. More honesty, less evasion. More accountability, less excuse-making.
Here’s another: If your family and coworkers were told they could choose only five words to describe you, what would you like them to be? What do you think they would say? To paraphrase Jack Nicholson’s character in A Few Good Men, “Could you handle the truth?”
It takes character to engage in open-minded self-reflection and to acknowledge and address your flaws, but it takes even stronger character to commit to getting better. It’s like the old proverb: “If you want to know how to live your life, think about what you want people to say about you after you die – and live backwards.”
This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.