By Dave Kahle

What Happened to Character?

In a recent training session, I recommended to a group of sales managers that they hire their next salesperson on the basis of that person’s character, rather than his/her skill, experience or knowledge.

A couple of them looked like Bambi being caught by a pair of headlights on a dark night in the middle of the road. The thought I had just expressed was incomprehensible.  “Character? What on earth was I talking about?”

Unfortunately, the lack of understanding of the role that character plays in a person’s life, as well as in the larger national culture, isn’t limited to these couple of people.  It looks to me like it is a pandemic, every bit as widespread as Covid-19. As a culture, we have lost the emphasis on character, and we are suffering the consequences.

First, let’s understand the concept.  I like this Merriam-Webster definition of Character: the complex of mental and ethical traits marking and often individualizing a person, group, or nation: moral excellence and firmness.

And from Wikipedia: Strength of mind; resolution; independence; individuality; moral strength. He has a great deal of character.

A person’s character, more than anything else, determines his/her individual success.  For decades I’ve had this in my database of pithy quotes:

Watch your thoughts:  They become words. 
Watch your words:  They become actions. 
Watch your actions:  They become habits. 
Watch your habits:  They become character. 
Watch your character:  It becomes your destiny. 
– Author unknown

So, character is the combination of attitudes, habits, and values that make us who we are. These evidence themselves as patterns of behavior so that, in any combination of circumstances, we can be expected to act or react in a certain way.  That’s how people come to know our character – far more by what we do than what we say.

Some character traits are more desirable than others.  For example, integrity is universally admired, laziness is not.  When a person evidences a combination of the more desirable character traits, he/she is said to have a higher character.  The opposite of course, is a lower character.

Because character so impacts the results a person achieves and the quality of his/her life, it ought to be upper-most in our minds when we are called on to make important decisions about people. We should take a person’s character into the mix when we are making a determination as to how suitable a person is for a specific position. It doesn’t matter if that position is an open sales position, or President of the United States, character should be the overriding issue.


Copyright MMXXII by Dave Kahle. All rights reserved.

Originally published: Will Self-Delusion Be Our End? | Dave Kahle Wisdom

About the author:

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales authorities. He’s written twelve books, presented in 47 states and eleven countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of salespeople and transform hundreds of sales organizations. His book, How to Sell Anything to Anyone Anytime, has been recognized by three international entities as “one of the five best English language business books.” Check out his latest book, The Good Book on Business.