Welcome last week we talked about commitment in the discipline of freedom which is the 1st of the 7 steps to happiness and with happiness comes freedom. This week we'll talk about character.
These 7 steps to happiness are adapted from my kundalini yoga teacher training. The steps are simple. They made sense then and they make sense now and what I often wonder when I encounter these things - why aren’t we teaching this stuff to kids at school but back to the steps.
They are presented sequentially but don’t be fooled by that, you will be encountering each step in different aspects and circumstances in your work, health, love, creativity and play, sometimes together but repeatedly as you build the vision you imagine for your future self.
So I’m going to walk you briefly through each of the 7 steps so you get an overview of how it works.
The first step is
Commitment, which we covered last week If you haven’t listened to that episode, pause now and go back. Commitment builds the 2nd step character
Character, which we’ll go into more depth on today. by developing your character you begin to form and shape who you are and who you want others to know you are. As you do you begin to adopt a dignity, as you incrementally build the confidence and belief in yourself that you can actually be the person who can create the future you you have committed to being the future you imagine for yourself but it takes discipline doesn’t it? So ...
Dignity as this dignity roots more deeply in yourself, a divinity emerges
Divinity is when there’s no gap between who you say you are and whom others believe you to be. Seth Godin says you get to decide how others describe you and that's what happens because your daily practice of being your future self is paying dividends. A grace naturally emerges when this happens. There is no longer any doubt in yourself that this is who you are, this I often give the example of becoming a parent. you long for this and when it happens you are often full of terror and wonder how taking care of something so small could be so complicated and of course you’re ill equipped but slowly day by day dy doing it you begin to believe you can. Of course there are moments you berate yourself as being the worst mother or father ever but you keep doing it and dignity makes way for divinity and finally for grace as you own that while you may not be doing it perfectly - whatever that means anyway - you are doing it your way
Grace bestows on you an elegant conviction and now there is nothing you will not
Sacrifice to be the person to be this parent, to create this vision. There is a pure power in this (and we’ll talk later about not getting drunk on this) this power is beyond just will. It comes from the discipline and devotion of love for yourself your vision your commitment and in the absence of choice you feel freedom, success and happiness
Happiness and that there is the discipline of freedom that creates your spiral of success
We’ll come back and revisit each of these over the next few weeks but for now let’s focus on character
What I want to discuss here is character in the context of how it helps us create a clear focus and direction and guidelines to become whom we have committed to be.
What i think is most interesting is that give or take we all know, what needs to be done but what stops us doing it. We all know whom we admire and look up to, so we have an idea of whom we need to be, the qualities we need to embody SO what gets in the way of that, why do some people seem to be able to make the choices that serve them so easily and consistently and others get so distracted. I offer it is the discipline of freedom that creates this spiral of success. Now, being a person who has experienced both sides of this matrix, I've enjoyed and suffered the consequences. And also from decades of experience working with clients who have travelled their own version of this path in business and branding, life and work, personally and professionally I feel well placed to offer the insights of my own experience so let’s get into it shall we.
So let’s set the context
In a world where you can be anything, how do you develop the strength caliber and courage to build your character, the character you need live into the commitment to the person you want to become. someone you can rely on to deliver your dreams and someone others can rely onto deliver what you say you will. How do you become someone who walks their talk.
Like all things its simple. This does not mean it is easy. you commit to being that person and with each thought, word and action and allocation of your time and resources you serve this vision. you practice again and again and through this discipline and devotion you will become it. The more aligned and clear you are the faster it happens. It’s that simple. Your success is inevitable
But then life gets in the way so know you’ll get off course - opportunities will present that are shiny and attractive and you’ll get distracted and that’s ok but keeping your vision in your line of sight means you won’t stray too far for too long. So for a moment
Let’s step back to commitment
Let’s say you’ve committed to YOU, your infinite self, the self that remains when everything else has gone.
Our lives are the compound interest on what we do every day
Our society focuses on the what but it’s who you are being as you the what (that btw keeps changing) that is who you become.
You know the qualiites, values, traits, morals and belief of this person. You know your yamas and your niyamas., your disciplines and devotions. Your moral codes and guidelines, your daily practices that you repeat
And just so we’re real here let’s acknowledge we’re humans full of features and flaws so there are so many things that at different times we cling so desperately to. Things like the job title, the place, being a good girl or boy, owning stuff, money, relationship, being the style maven, the party girl, the dare devil, the director, the mother, having the Phd, the traveller, the speedster, the class clown, the spiritual seeker and on it goes.
But like all labels there comes a time when they no longer fit, you have outgrown them like your first pair of skinny jeans or the tie dye you can’t believe you ever, ever wore. It just doesn’t feel like you anymore.
Now there are cycles in everything and no matter how well any of these labels suits, their time will end and they’ll evolve into another. Enjoy them while they last and yes keep asking yourself am i being whom I have committed to becoming while I’m this.
Remember a vision is not a place to be right now. It’s a point on a distant horizon that is inspiring and motivating you to keep moving towards it.
Inspiration gets us started. Progress keeps us going. You are evolving and growing as you do your daily tasks to get there. Without a vision we are moving aimlessly. We have nothing to measure against. We don;t knwo if we are making progress or just wandering around in circles like the dog that chases its own tail. Not a good look.
Being a mother to a toddler requires a whole different type of discipline and devotion than being a mother of a teenager, adult or when you become a grandmother to your child’s child.
As you live into your commitment and build your character you will meet challenges and obstacles along the way and this is when you come face to face with your edges. You test your values, resolve, commitment. You’ll resist at times and at others, surrender and emerge stronger and clearer on your commitment and know more about your character and what really matters to you
Your beliefs, conditioning and patterns will be come under scrutiny and you’ll come to terms with what is yours vs what others believe - family, teachers, society, bosses, friends, partners
Character is built in the fiery cauldron of going for what you want.
Transitioning from one phase or situation to another is so much easier when we know ourselves deeply and trust the essence of who we are, to build the bridge to the next phase. We come to trust our resilience, our agility. We approach with curiosity and we build conviction because we know if we could do that, then we can do this too. We know if we could wholeheartedly be that, we can become this new version of ourselves too.
Growth as you’ve heard is on the other side of your comfort zone and in the space between you learn more about your lines in the sand and what you couldn’t give a rat’s arse about.
Big transitions like heartbreak, divorce, career change, health crisis demand a lot of us and are super distracting. Many can’t imagine how they’ll come through the other side, the pain and darkness becomes more comfortable than breaking through so they stay stuck - furiously raking over the past as if it’s going to magically change their present reality. Top tip - grieve, trash about, scream while you run, swim, walk, cycle and move on through to the other side.
First we make our habits and then they make us so Refusing to let go of the hurt, the injustice the pain is creating a character that is a caricature you want no part of.
Choose better not bitter.
You build your character through every choice you make so choose your tools, that should include some if not all of these: exercise, meditation, reflection, creative pursuits, play, time alone time with supportive others. Choose rituals and practices that help you choose joy
These tools, build the discipline the practice to pick yourself up dust yourself off to live, work and play another day clear and confident you can build the future we have committed to.
Remember what I said in the beginning you are playing an infinite game. Jobs, relationships, people and places, resources and investments will come and go _not all of them we hope - but commit to that, that never dies
Please know I’m not discounting the pain. Suffering in life is inevitable but its also optional. It mostly occurs when we fight with reality.. I’ve travelled my own version of these things. life isn’t fair and remember that circumstances are neutral. You get to choose the meaning and the story. Which is why we are using discipline to build success and freedom here.
Einstein said that your life experience is largely determined by whether you see the universe as a friendly or alien place and I see everything as happening for me. I recommend you adopt that mantra too. Get curious and if you ever encounter a mess make it your medicine
The characteristics that shape and develop you will develop through your daily practice of showing up to the commitment you have made to be your true self and the actions you take while building the vision of the future you have imagined.
And just so you know if you knew what building a business would ask of you, being an artist or being a parent you’d do a doona dive or if you were me you’d buy another round the world ticket.
I joke that for decades when most felt stuck they get a new hairstyle. I moved country, several times
I believe when we commit to something we get information on a need to know basis otherwise we’d never start anything. We mostly learn, experience and grow incrementally and sometimes we encounter big change and big challenges and the more we can develop our curiosity muscle - more than the doona dive or international living muscle and , face the challenge, we find our way through step at a time. You realise you’ve got this. And because you did this you can do that too and what you did there can be applied here. You’re building grit by going through the grind. You’re becoming who you are and you’re surprising yourself when you look back and document our journey. And you also get to document your skills, gifts, talents and what you can help others achieve
Let’s breathe into that for a moment so you can give yourself a pat on the back here you deserve it.
We know that the one constant is change which doesn’t mean it comes easily and boy don’t we get bored hearing that but it’s true.
We also know the tighter we hold onto things that no longer fit like those shoes that pinch our toes. When we cling - it’s harder to live well, joyfully and with a sense of freedom, peace and joyful curiosity. And if we’re feeling confused on the inside we’re also projecting that on the outside
We’ve all met people who become more rigid and uptight. Depression is said to be when we are stuck in the past and anxiety is when we are concerned by a future that hasn’t happened yet.
Worry is a prayer for something you don’t want to happen. Instead focus on who you want to be, whom you need to become, to realise your dreams. That person is a pretty cool character. Hang out with him or her.
So you choose the moral and mental codes and the actions required for your Commitment. These choices create your character.
This is where I need to admit that for much of my life I conflated personality with character. Duh right! It wasn’t until I was studying Kundalini yoga that I even considered the distinction between character and personality.
I define personality as projection. It’s how we appear to others - extroverted or introverted, serious or funny, uptight or I’m curious to know more about you.
Like with humour we can be light, cynical, ironic or sarcastic. You choose.
The American Psychological Association defines personality as the enduring characteristics and behavior that comprise a person's unique adjustment to life, including major traits, interests, drives, values, self-concept, abilities, and emotional patterns.
Whereas character shows up in our actions in various circumstances. How do you behave when you are under stress, up against a tight deadline, when things just don’t go your way or let’s say when everything goes your way. Do you become a conceited and complacent ass. Of course you don’t :-) I was just checking you were listening there.
So character, branding is all about character - what can I rely on you to deliver. What promise will you make and then deliver on.
Your brand personality is the aesthetic and the tone of voice
Like a story it’s the way you tell them
Can you see the distinction one is surface and may change the other is integral.
Understanding your true character is an unfolding adventure which is the journey of self awareness. It can be hard when you witness yourself do things you never expected yourself to do. Oops be forgiving here we all disappoint ourselves at times - just don’t make a habit of it. Learn from your mis-takes
You know that first we make our habits and then they make us and that’s what character is all about and what the discipline of freedom addresses.
When we keep making mistakes when we know better it’s called crimes against our wisdom - remember - ahimsa - non-harming includes yourself
It’s also super rewarding when you see yourself develop the caliber and grit that comes when you see your actions aligned with your words and your soul’s path. That’s the aligned will again when your mind, heart and body are all moving in the same direction.
You become a person who walks your talk.
When you want to lead a happy life and become so happy you make people happy by just looking at you, you must do everything you can to realize your true inner self.
When all of your characteristics are in perfect balance, you will feel at one with yourself aligned and there’s no fight between your thoughts, words and actions.
The american Psychological Associat defines personality as a person's collection of attitudes, behaviours, and outward qualities. In most cases, a person's personality traits will set them apart from other people.
On the other hand, a person's character is their set of inwardly held mental and moral beliefs and qualities that differentiate them from others. These are the yamas and niyamas disciplines and devotions we spoke about last week.
Here are a few more distinctins
Personality implies Who we seem to be? On the other hand, the character represents Who we actually are? Actions speak louder than words
Personality is a set of personal qualities - funny, serious whereas character is a collection of mental and moral characteristics of an individual
The personality is the mask or the identity of a person. Conversely, the character is the learned behaviour which means you choose the behaviours you want to learn
Personality is subjective. but the character is objective. I like is subjective. It is is objective.
Personality is the outer appearance and behaviour of a person - sequins or tie dye. At the same time, character indicates the traits of a person which are hidden from sight.
The personality of an individual may change with time. However, the character lasts longer because its based in habit - harder to make and deeper to break
Character requires validation and support of society. In contrast, the personality, does not need validation and support of the society.
So that about sums up character next week we'll talk about dignity which is the fruits of developing your character
If you’re feeling curious, hit me up on Instagram and let me know how you see character development playing out in your life and work by your design.
Until next time, my wish for you is character building moments with grace and love
If you love these themes and topics there are two ways to work with me and some tools you can use in your day to day.
Brand Strategy Workshop - Essence, Experience, Expression
The immaterial by design collection