Successful indie brands transcend the traditional marketing playbook and inspire fanatical loyalty by standing for something that matters. But before your company can stand for something, you’ve got to answer the question: what do you stand for?
I’m not just talking about having an opinion – opinions are easy. I’m talking about backing up your belief in what is good and right with a steadfast commitment to achieving a goal greater than simply meeting your own needs.
I’m talking about character.
What is character?
Character is founded in integrity: alignment between your beliefs, thoughts and actions. Character is informed by a set of principles that anchor your decisions, temper your passions, and allow you to consistently focus on a goal that is larger than yourself. Answering the question “what do you stand for?” requires the constant questioning of one’s actions and motivations to ensure they are aligned with your belief. It is principled discipline in action.
How can you develop character?
While the decision to become a person of character can be made instantaneously, the path to developing character is an evolution as we consistently reflect on our actions and develop new habits. The core principles of character are:
Integrity is the foundational principle because without it, no other principles or commitments are possible. Being a person of character does not mean being perfect, being rigid, being dogmatic or unemotional, but it does mean understanding and utilizing the power of your word in shaping your destiny.
Self reflection means being willing to subject your beliefs and actions to critical analysis. This means being willing to consider other people’s perspectives and opinions in an objective light. One of the best ways to do this is to set time aside to daily or weekly to reflect on your past actions, and ask yourself if there are areas you could improve.
Commitment to a goal that is larger than oneself requires sacrifice, and all success comes as the result of delaying short-term gratification. One need not live a life of monastic austerity, but inevitably your commitments will conflict with your short-term desires and challenge your will.
Applying the principles
Here’s a set of actions that you can apply to daily life that will begin to begin the process of deepening your character and answering the question, what do you stand for?:
- Consistently do what you say you’ll do
- Avoid sarcasm
- Avoid gossip
- Make sincere efforts to resolve all personal disagreements
- Apologize when you feel that you’ve been in the wrong
The process of developing character and knowing what do you stand for occurs slowly over time, however the decision to pursue a path of character can happen in an instant. Take some time to reflect on what you are committed to and how closely your current actions are aligned with that goal. You’ll be a better, more confident and happier person for it.