Character is the cornerstone of leadership. Why? Because trust is the result of character. And people will only follow you to the extent that they trust you. This trust can take years to build and seconds to lose, which is why leaders are leaders everywhere—at work, at home, and within their social circles and faith communities. This doesn’t mean that you always need to be the face in front. It means that you are always attentive to your internal moral compass. Honesty, humility, bravery, and determination—these character traits must follow you everywhere. They are the wake you leave behind and the crest you create ahead—they are your destiny.
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
- Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States
You will be criticized, scrutinized, attacked, mocked, and maybe even hated. You will be falsely accused, lied to, and most likely laughed at, by friend and foe alike. Leaders must learn to live with thick skin, but soft hearts. Ignore hecklers and haters. Value constructive criticism, but hold it loosely. Invest in an inner circle of trusted friends for support. Strive to serve as many of your constituents as possible, but without compromising your mission. You cannot and will not be able to please everyone. That’s okay. Pick your battles and focus forward, while letting go of negatively and living lightly.
“Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticized anyway.”
- Eleanor Roosevelt, Human rights activist and former First Lady of the United States