To Be or Not To Be

A little kingdom I possess,
Where thoughts and feelings dwell;
And very hard the task I find
Of governing it well.
-- Louisa May Alcott.
...........hmmm....that more or less describes my situation !!

~A Wise Man Said~

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
-- Aristotle

Thursday, November 26, 2009
Personality Vs. Character

Have you noticed that any problem today has a quick fix solution? Need to improve your relationship with friends? Here are five simple steps. Want to lose weight before Christmas? Just follow these 10 rules. Want to become an effective leader? You can’t go wrong if you do this, that and the other. Your career is going through a downturn? Never mind, help is not too far away, all you have to do is point 1, point 2, point 3, and you’ll be back on track.

Have you noticed how everything today is reduced to a checklist?

It would appear that there is nothing you cannot fix or attain, simply by following some simple rules, without putting in much sweat or thought or time into the process.

How effective are these simple rules?

I was forced to ponder about this when I started reading “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. The author lamented the “quick fix” approach to problem-solving that exists today, and pointed out how we are increasingly moving towards a “Personality Ethic” based world from that of a “Character Ethic”.

The Personality Ethic is where you believe that making outward or cosmetic changes to your personality will bring about desired results, and bring them fast. Say you are not perceived as being empathetic. You could learn certain mannerisms or behaviours or gestures (rules, remember?) and make yourself appear empathetic. Chances are high that people would be fooled by outward displays of empathy; but how long before they see through the mask? The Personality Ethic is all about immediate success and not about a long-term solution. It attacks the symptom rather than the problem. The problem persists, and sooner or later, raises its head in a different form.

The Character Ethic, opposed to it, does not provide any quick remedies. To be an empathetic human, you cannot do X, Y and Z; you need to cultivate empathy in your character and value system by understanding what empathy means, why it is desirable, what it means to be empathetic—and adopt it from within. You cannot afford to skim the surface but must dive deep into yourself. When the changes occur internally, the outward attitude and behaviour are bound to follow. This may take time and effort but the results are permanent.

The Character Ethic is based on “principles”– right principles lead to right actions, which lead to lasting successes in the long run.