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How to Build Your Character - Leading in Your Twenties Series

Do you know how to actually build your character?

"Leaders must have Integrity." "A leader's Character is vitally important." "Be a servant leader." Many books or training seminars will stress the importance of Character or some aspect of Character. Few people argue with the idea that Character is important in leadership. The problem is, nobody seems to talk about how to actually build your Character.

Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a series of 12 blogs written directly to the Twenty-Somethings. This is about you and your future. As you read these blogs, please share them with other people who want ideas on how to lead now and how to develop the Twenty-Something Leaders of our future.

Building your Character is not complicated - but it is hard. That's why so few people actually go beyond reading about Character and actually exercise it.

Exercising Your Character Muscles

You would never expect to get in shape from reading a fitness magazine. You need to go out and actually exercise. Plus, when you go to the gym, you understand that in order to gain anything, you are going to have to sweat. An exercise regimen that does not make you uncomfortable and even a little sore after the workout, is a waste of time.

In fact, very few people believe they will get in shape by going to the gym once a week. You know that to truly develop and maintain your muscle strength and stamina, you have to make working out a habit. You must consistently perform repetitions of certain exercises over a period of time to make any real gains.

Finally, most people understand that in order to maintain your physical fitness level, you must continue to exercise. If you stop exercising, your muscles begin to atrophy. You get weaker, and become more vulnerable to injury.

The same principles are true for building your Character. In order to make any progress and build your Character, you have to exercise. Just like your body's muscles get stronger when you do repetitions of certain exercises, your character muscles get stronger through repetition as well.

My good friend and fellow proclaimer of Character, Colonel Craig Flowers (@COLCraigFlowers) calls these character reps. (#characterreps). You build a muscle over time. Each time you perform a character rep, you are preparing yourself for bigger lifts to come.

Too many people think, "This little white lie is no big deal, but when the big test comes I am going to be ready!" But if you have never lifted 50 pounds, what makes you think you will lift 300?

Your Character is the sum total of your habits - your good habits and your bad habits The more often you choose to exercise Character, the stronger your Character gets.

Like building a muscle:

  • You build your Character by going beyond reading a blog or a book.

  • You build your Character in the small daily choices you make.

  • You build your Character by making choices that make you uncomfortable.

  • You build your Character by making those choices consistently over time.

You are building your Character daily whether you realize it or not. The choices you make everyday, affects who you are as a person. Each time you make a choice it makes it easier to make that same choice again. That is how habits are formed.

The question is what type of Character are you building? What direction are your choices taking you?

  • Do you choose to speak up when a friend is about to drive after having a third drink?

  • Do you choose to truly listen to another person's opinions?

  • Do you choose to cheat on an exam like other people do?

  • Do you choose to stop and help a struggling coworker?

  • Do you choose to give 100% effort to the parts of your job you don't like?

  • Do you choose to have a good attitude even in difficult circumstances?

If you want to BE a Leader of Character, you have to DO what Leaders of Character DO.

Our next six blogs will specifically discuss how to exercise the Six Habits of Character:

Courage, Humility, Integrity, Selflessness, Duty, and Positivity.


  • What hard choices are people in their twenties faced with that challenge their Character?

  • Whose character do you admire the most?

  • How do they exercise character?


Here is a quick assessment that will take you 5 minutes to figure it out. Nobody will ever see your results but you.

Warning: If you are not going to be honest with yourself this is a worthless assessment.

To take the assessment use the QR code above or go to

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