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Building Character

Building Character

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” – Helen Keller

In this 2006 article by Joseph L. Badaracco, Jr., he asks, “What is the difference between a tough ethical decision and a defining moment? An ethical decision typically involves choosing between two options: one we know to be right and another we know to be wrong. A defining moment, however, challenges us in a deeper way by asking us to choose between two or more ideals in which we deeply believe. Such challenges rarely have a “correct” response. Rather, they are situations created by circumstance that ask us to step forward and, in the words of the American philosopher John Dewey, “form, reveal, and test” ourselves. We form our character in defining moments because we commit to irreversible courses of action that shape our personal and professional identities. We reveal something new about us to ourselves and others because defining moments uncover something that had been hidden or crystallize something that had been only partially known. And we test ourselves because we discover whether we will live up to our personal ideals or only pay them lip service.”

These “defining moments” in our lives shape our character whether we are old enough to realize it or not. Can you remember a time in your life when you were forced to make a tough decision? How has your life been different since?

Read more of Badaracco’s article here: The Discipline of Building Character

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