St Columba Graduates: “Understand that while they should be valued as an individual, their willingness to serve their community, now and in the future, will be a key to their continued growth.”
It may seem strange that the most successful regional school in NSW spends so much time and effort in developing the character of our students.
While 21st century skills, digital knowledge and agility are now accepted as keys to future success, this aspect of education is becoming more and more important.
An accepted formula for success in many areas today is: Performance = Capability + Behaviour.
This means that the way you behave will either bring out the best in your talents, or allow them to be wasted.
This comes down to what we call Ethics: The beliefs, principles, values and codes we live by.
No longer can individuals spruik values in public that they ignore in private. What was once the private domain of leaders is now often exposed and character failings broadcast to a world eager to see the mighty fall.
“We have seen many leaders taken down by their flaws, leaders who have gotten complacent in their power and their own self interest has lead to their downfall.”
In a world where we constantly hear how people have lost trust in leaders, politicians and the very processes that define our society, behaving in a manner that denotes good character is increasingly important.
“Sincerity is one of the most important qualities in a person. And once you can fake that you have it made.” Oscar Wilde
Good character is about authenticity.
The way we treat people we think can’t help or hurt us tells more about our character than how we treat people we think are important. How we behave when we think no one is looking or when we don’t think we will get caught more accurately portrays our character than what we say or do in service of our reputations.
Having good character is not only good for you, it can be a key to success. Research shows that people of “good” character:
- Achieve peace of mind. People with character stay true to their beliefs, do right by others, and always take the high ground.
- Enjoy meaningful relationships based on openness, honesty, and mutual respect.
- Build a solid reputation. People with character command a rock-solid reputation. This helps them attract exciting opportunities.
- Have reduced anxiety. People with character carry less baggage. They’re comfortable within their own skin, and they accept responsibility for their actions. They never have to play games, waste precious time keeping their stories straight, or invent excuses to cover their behind.
- Have increased leadership effectiveness. Leaders with character are highly effective. They have no need to pull rank or resort to command and control to get results. Instead, they’re effective because they’re knowledgeable, admired, trusted, and respected.
- Have confidence. They don’t worry about embarrassment if their actions are publicly disclosed.
- Are positive role models. People with character set the standard for excellence. They live their life as an open book, teaching others important life lessons through their words and their deeds.
- Live a purpose-driven life. People with character live a life they can be proud of. They’re driven to make a difference and to do right by others rather than trying to impress others with extravagance.
Seems that good character is hard to quantify when handing out marks, but easy to see when we act according to our values. It also seems that people of character live lives of quality. Surely, focussing on building character in our students is a project worth our time and effort.