Making the Character Connection

We have such a limited vocabulary when it comes to character. We routinely praise people for their achievement and their achievement alone, without recognizing the good character that produced the achievement. Learning to make the character connection forces you to become a better supervisor or a better parent. This is THE paradigm shift for understanding how a character initiative works in real life…

BTW: I’m still in Cancun but we have been too “busy” relaxing and stuff for me to produce any more videos from here. But I kept some in reserve that I produced in Kabul…

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2 thoughts on “Making the Character Connection

  1. The “Under Achievement” of Character

    Achievement, as we all know, is an essential, valuable concept in the life of an individual as well as in the life of a nation. In fact the term “under achievement” is indicative of being or operating below established standards. This is a realm that all true professionals would want to avoid, like the plague!

    I have had the good fortune to know a lot of “high achievers” in my earlier professional life as a Naval Aviator and law enforcement executive. Some of them, from whom I learned much, had been prisoners of war for long periods of time. Along the way I learned that achievement alone had some major limitations. For one thing, I learned that honor was a sacred trust, upheld by character, and a term not often associated with mere achievement. “I would lay down my life for America, but I can not trifle with my honor” John Paul Jones, Father of the US Navy

    All combat aviators, as well as civilian, must be intimately familiar with the systems and limitations of their aircraft. That includes engine, air frame, electronics, weapons, and most importantly themselves the pilots. I believe it was that famous police detective
    “Dirty Harry” who proffered that “A man must know his limitations”.

    Taking on an enemy target or a thunderstorm in the wrong way or at a wrong time has ended tragically for many. The same principle holds true in law enforcement scenarios. The Character First folks define “alertness”, one of their character qualities, as “Being aware of what is taking place around me so that I can have the right responses.” Looking back I can testify, under oath, that character not “can do” has saved my life and the life of others without sacrificing the mission or causing the needless loss of life. Discretion, another character quality, really can be “the better part of valor”.

    Sadly,in a few of my life experiences character “under achievement” has been, as the 70’s song, House of the Rising Sun says “been the ruin of many a poor boy”. One high achiever I served under was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor only to die while riding a motorcyle while highly intoxicated. He had established a reputation of “hard charger” and was attempting to jump a draw bridge. Another who I served with was the first Ace in the Vietnam War, an ace is one who shoots down 5 enemy aircraft. He then commanded the famous “Top Gun” Squadron and then became a US Congressman. He now occupies a Federal Prison cell. Sadly, a number of “good” law enforcement officers have likewise lost their careers, to character “under achievement”.

    As professionals we must guard our “hearts” like we would guard a shipment of gold from Ft Knox or Charlie Manson if we were assigned to transport him to a hearing. Our hearts are designed by God to be that deep reservoir where we draw strength and refreshment in times of great stress and challenge. This refreshment and strength enables us to then “achieve”, with honor, the objective before us as stated in the oaths we are sworn to uphold, “so help me God”.

    For “character food” I usually read from King Solomon’s Proverbs the chapter for whatever day it is. Today happens to be the 27th and verse 17 says “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another”. Verse 19 has direct application that says “As water flects the face so the heart reflects the man.”

    If your desire is to achieve then first desire to “honor” your oath with your whole heart. Character does count!

    John R. “Barney” Barnes
    CDR USN(ret)

  2. Pingback: Character Quality of the Month: TOLERANCE v. prejudice « Police Dynamics Media

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