Character vs. Strategy

In life there are moments that create a cause for pause. Here’s one that I just had to share with you.

A few days ago I was sitting in a board meeting for one of the non-profit organizations I serve, and the president and founder posed this question: “In business, which one is more important – Character or Strategy?”

Everyone around the table chimed in and gave an opinion. It was evenly split down the middle.

However, the president said character is more important than strategy. A profound silence swept through the room as we waited to hear his rationale.

He then said, “Anyone can come up with a strategy, but if they lack character, it is nothing more than a man in an empty suit with a hallowed soul.” I sat there in astonishment doing my best to process the deeper meaning. And then I had an epiphany:

Character is forged when no one is looking.

Character is doing the work of work for no prize at all.

A person of character is willing to do the right thing and walk alone than to do the wrong thing in order to follow the crowd.

I’ve discovered people over the years that talk a good game. They can blow smoke in your ears and do everything they can to see and be seen. They want everyone to know that they are important, smart, and special.

I was that foolish person once upon a time.

Then one day, I met a man of impeccable character. He was the type of person that gets personally invited to the White House. As I watched him from afar, he walked into the room and didn’t make a big fuss or a scene.

His presence spoke volumes, and I learned that when you are “the man” you don’t have to tell people that you’re the man. Your very essence will speak louder than words.

Be mindful of a person whose mouth runs faster than their mind. True character speaks less and listens more.

That man invited me to join this non-profit board a year ago, and my life has never been the same.

Simon T. Bailey