There is a direct relationship between character and success, in that you cannot have one without the other. In fact, your success is defined by your character.
We live in a society today where success has become an arbitrary accomplishment. Any online personality with enough followers on Twitter, any entrepreneur who reaches a million dollars in sales, or any politician not caught with his pants around his ankles is considered successful. In reality, there should be (and for many people, continues to be) a higher standard of success.
It’s almost reflexive to equate success with having money. Being able to afford the luxuries of life may seem like the ultimate achievement, but take a minute to think about what people or companies you consider the most successful. Of all people you’ve ever met, seen, or read about on the news, who would you say is the most successful? And all the companies and business you’ve ever visited or heard about, which would you say are the most successful?
Keeping that person or company in mind, take all their money away. Imagine them without the billion-dollar quarterly profits or personal jets. They still provide the same product or service, but their value doesn’t rival the GDP of most countries.
Would you still consider them successful? If you do, then there has to be something other than their financial accomplishments which dictates whether or not they’re successful. There must be other qualities within that person or within that company which makes them a success – both to you and to others.
That other quality isn’t some sort of mysterious X factor or unattainable luck of the draw; that higher standard of success is character.
Let’s not kid ourselves; there is a certain amount of natural ability involved. The better of two equally-dedicated athletes will likely be decided by their innate talents. But 19th century Irish historian William Edward Hartpole Lecky once said, “One of the most important lessons that experience teaches is that, on the whole, success depends more upon character than upon either intellect or fortune.”
The thing that will best dictate you future success is your character. The definition of character is perhaps left to that now-famous phrase uttered by Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart when he said, “I know it when I see it,” but some good indicators may be your level of customer service, your positive influence in the local community, the overall morale of your employees, or the application of your company’s mission statement or value statement (assuming you have a good statement in place).
There are other ways to measure character – and, therefore, success – but regardless of what qualities you attach to success, you will only truly succeed if you character succeeds as well.