I recently watched the 2021 film “Lansky” about legendary gangster Meyer Lansky.
In a famous line from the film, Lansky tells the writer interviewing him that we can lose almost anything in life and survive, but if you lose your character you’ve lost “everything.”
And even though Lansky was a hardened criminal, his point is very valid here.
Character can’t be easily reclaimed once lost, and it’s not just a small matter, it’s everything.
That’s why people with character draw a strong line and avoid the following actions at all costs.
1) Cut and run
People with character don’t cut and run when times get hard.
They don’t abandon loved ones, quit jobs without notice or leave behind friends for convenience or petty reasons.
They stick with those who are loyal to them and they mean what they say.
In a world where talk is cheap, the person of character makes sure his or her talk lines up with action and results.
Giving up is for other people, not people of character.
2) Manipulate others
People of solid character don’t try to manipulate others.
That’s because they know that even if you succeed, manipulation is a low-down dirty trick.
You may get what you want temporarily, but in the long-run you’ll lose self-respect.
That’s why manipulation and exploitation are not in a person of character’s playbook.
3) Be selfish pricks
We’re all selfish from time to time, but people of outstanding character limit this as much as possible.
They are self-aware and pay attention to their tendency to fall into egotism and selfishness.
They then go to great lengths to not fall into this way of acting and interacting in the world.
It’s crucial to look after your own needs, but being selfish is excessive and people of high character do their best not to be.
4) Abandon values under pressure
People of character don’t hold their hand up to see which way the wind is blowing before deciding what they stand for.
They have core values and they stick to those even under pressure.
They don’t change who they are to fit in or be accepted by different groups:
Who they are in one setting is who they are in every setting.
This is a crucial point, because so many of us trim and adapt ourselves to try to fit in and be accepted depending on who we’re with.
This ties into the next point…
5) Varying treatment of people based on social status
People with solid character are consistent in who they are.
They don’t try to be liked by others or accepted, and they treat everyone the same.
This means they don’t change the way they speak depending on who they’re talking to.
They don’t see the world as higher and lower class, or stupid vs. smart.
They see the world as everyone being unique including themselves, and trying to find and appreciate value in everybody.
Elitism is rarely found in people of character because it’s such a basic behavior.
Speaking of varying behavior based on self-interest…
6) Complimenting people to exploit them
The person of low character will often butter people up to take advantage of them.
You see this often in scam artists, sleazy gurus, politicians and marketing fraudsters.
“I know you understand this, because you’re smart than those other people!”
“Welcome to this retreat. You’re among fellow people who are also vibrating at a higher frequency. It feels good, doesn’t it? And it should…”
And so on…
People of high character give compliments when they want to do so, not for an ulterior motive.
7) Accuse and harass other people
The type of person who accuses and harasses others is disrespectful and often insecure.
Regardless of their motivations, such conduct is never OK.
Whether it’s a boss, a spouse or a friend, accusatory and insulting treatment is a shame.
Those of high character don’t engage in it and they don’t tolerate it in their friends and loved ones, either.
They know that life is too short to form close connections with people who treat you like sh*t. Simple.
And if those connections are family ties and other connections they have no say in?
The person of character limits their exposure as well. Even family needs boundaries.
8) Being unkind and aggressive for no reason
There are times when self-defense calls for aggression and threats of physical force.
But being unkind and aggressive for no real reason is the behavior of brutes.
Before anybody goes thinking it’s always the result of abuse or mistreatment, it’s important to consider the many people who just seem instinctively aggressive from a young age for no real reason.
I’m sorry to say that I believe there are indeed certain people who just seem to have brutish aggressiveness hardwired into them.
People of high character save their aggression for those who deserve it, and they’re conscious of any violent impulses they have.
This is a good thing, considering the FBI has found that 36% of serial killers torture and kill animals for fun as kids.
9) Gossiping and trash talking friends, colleagues and strangers
People of high character stay away from gossip.
For one thing it’s a waste of time.
It’s also often mean-spirited, juvenile and vicious.
When they hear other people gossiping they just slide on by and avoid it altogether.
If there’s a problem going on with a colleague, friend or partner, they bring up that problem directly.
They don’t go around whining and gossiping about it to third parties, because that’s what losers do.
10) Putting ego and short term pleasure ahead of long term goals
Now and then most of us go for instant gratification.
But people of high character are more disciplined in this regard.
They’d rather think long-term and be self-disciplined than just get their payoff right away.
The examples are endless:
- They’d rather build a real relationship with somebody they are truly into than have quick, casual sex right now.
- They’d rather invest in a fund or company that will eventually go big than get a small return in a month or two.
- They’d rather eat healthy, exercise and sleep well now than party, eat what they want and ignore their health for short-term pleasure.
The list goes on. Short term payoff that ignores well-being is always inferior to self-discipline and long-term goals!
11) Being pushy and aggressive in love, sex and romance
People of outstanding character don’t push.
They are principled, strong-willed and committed, but they’re never desperate.
They know their value and they stand by that.
If they’re rejected, it’s the other person’s loss.
They accept it with as much grace as possible and move on. They are always growing, developing and making moves.
They don’t pressure anybody to be with them romantically, sexually or even as a friend.
This tends to cause the person of character to become much more magnetic and attractive to potential mates an unintentional side-effect.
After all, a person (or business, stock, property, ideology) of true value doesn’t need to talk anybody into it’s value:
People of sufficient discernment will realize and come of their own accord.
The truth about character
Some amount of character is innate and genetically predisposed, in my opinion.
Some of our crucial character is formed in our earliest years by who and what shaped us.
The rest is up to you to develop.
Working on the points above, do your best to become a man of character.