Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Character Development

If you're lucky, people will judge you by your character and not just by your appearance, but what do people mean by "character"?

Your character is the sum of all the qualities that make you who you are. It’s your values, your thoughts, your words, your actions. When admissions counselors review your application, your activities and interests give them a glimpse into your character.

Below are many attributes that contribute to your individual character. Building on these elements can help give you a stronger character and make you a more attractive prospect as a potential student.

ATTITUDE – Your attitude is the way you feel about particular events or situations. It shows in your words and in your actions. Why is it important to have a positive attitude toward school, and your family, and your friends? Do you surround yourself with people who have a positive attitude?

AWARENESS – Awareness means knowing what is going on around you. It involves all kinds of things, like the weather, or a sports activity, or a friend who is going through some tough times. Are you aware of things happening around you? What can you do to increase your awareness at school, at home, or with your friends?

CARING – Caring means being interested or concerned about someone or something. It’s easy to see that your family and friends care about you. But what about other people in your life? Who are some people you are around every day who care about you and want you to do well? Do YOU care about those people in return?

CHARACTER – Your character is the sum of all the qualities that make you who you are. It’s your values, your thoughts, your words, your actions…in other words, it’s YOU. Like it or not, you will often by judged by your character. Why is it important that you develop strong character traits? What are some situations in which your character might shine?

CITIZENSHIP – Citizenship is the way you conduct yourself within a community, such as the town you live in or the school you go to. Good citizens give back to that community by doing things that make it better, while poor citizens try to tear it down. What are some things you could do to show good citizenship in your school? What actions would be examples of poor citizenship in the town or city you live in?

COMMITMENT – A commitment is an agreement or a pledge to do something in the future. It’s like a promise, and when you commit to something you are giving your word that you will do it. What are some examples of commitments you have made? What are the consequences of not honoring a commitment?

COMMUNICATION – Communication is the means by which people exchange information. The people who get ahead in life are the people who can communicate. What are the different forms of incoming communication (the ways you receive information) and outgoing communication (the ways you give information to others)? Why is it important to develop ALL of your communication skills?

COMPASSION – Compassion is an awareness of other people’s problems and a desire to help. It can involve your family, your friends, or total strangers. Do you consider yourself to be a person of compassion? What are some situations in which you have shown compassion?

CONFIDENCE – Confidence is a feeling of belief, or of being certain of something. It’s also called self-esteem. Being confident in yourself and your abilities is very important to your success in school and in life. What are some things that you feel very confident about? In what areas of your life do you lack self-confidence? What are some things that could make you feel more confident in yourself?

CONSIDERATION – Consideration means being thoughtful of the rights and feelings of others. It means treating people the way you would like them to treat you. Can you think of any people who are not considerate in how they treat you? Now think about how you treat them…do you think they would be more considerate toward you if YOU were more considerate toward THEM?

COOPERATION – Cooperation is the ability and willingness to work with others. There aren’t many things you can accomplish totally by yourself – it takes cooperation to make things happen. What are some ways in which you can cooperate with your teachers to do well in school? How can you cooperate with your parents on things that go on at home?

COURAGE – Courage is not the absence of fear – it is the ability to face your fear. It takes courage to do lots of things, like playing a new sport, trying out for a part in the school play, or giving an oral report in front of the whole class. Why is it important that you show courage when facing new challenges? Can you think of a situation in which you had to show courage?

COURTESY – Courtesy is a show of respect and consideration for others. Sometimes people show "common courtesy" to strangers and old people, but show no courtesy to the people who are closest to them, like friends and family. Have you recently shown a lack of common courtesy to a family member or a friend? What should you do to correct the situation and prevent it from happening again?

CREATIVITY – Creativity means coming up with new thoughts or ideas, or new ways to do things. It could be a new hair style, a new way to decorate the gym for a dance, or a new way to run a boring old drill at soccer practice. What are some ways in which you have been creative lately? How will creativity help you later in life when you go off to work?

DEPENDABILITY – Dependability means people can count on you. It means you follow through on your promises and do the things you say you are going to do. When was the last time someone let you down? Do you remember how that made you feel? What does it say about your character if you lack dependability?

DILIGENCE – Diligence means sticking to a task until it is completed or mastered. Some people call it stick-to-it-ive-ness! It could involve homework, learning to play the piano, shooting three-pointers, or any other task you are trying to be good at. What are some things you are working on that require diligence? How will diligence help you once you get into high school or college?

DISCIPLINE – Discipline doesn’t just mean punishment. When we’re talking about character, it means self control. If you have discipline, it means you take control of your own actions. Why is self-discipline important to your success at school, at home, and in your outside activities? Can you think of a recent example in which you did NOT show good self-discipline? How did that situation turn out?

EFFORT – Effort is your willingness to try. It’s easy to put a lot of effort into things you like and things you’re good at. What’s hard is putting effort into things you DON’T do well. But that is where you effort is needed the most! In which school subjects are you putting most of your effort? Which subjects could use a little more effort on your part?

ENTHUSIASM – Enthusiasm is the level of excitement you feel about something. Your enthusiasm shows that you are interested and that you care. Having enthusiasm for certain subjects or activities can lead you toward long term goals or your chosen career. What are you enthusiastic about? How could your enthusiasm create opportunities for you later in life?

FAIRNESS – Fairness has many meanings, like doing the right thing, treating people the way they should be treated, and being impartial (not taking sides). You’ve heard the expression "Life isn’t fair", and sometimes it’s true. But sometimes it might be YOU who is being unfair. Can you think of a time when you treated a friend or family member unfairly? If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?

FOCUS – Focus means concentration. It involves paying attention and avoiding distractions. Whether you’re learning geography or guitar or basketball, staying focused is an important part of learning. Can you identify some things that cause you to lose focus when you are studying? How can you create a study environment that will help you to stay focused?

GENEROSITY – Generosity is the act of giving. Often it means giving up money or possessions. But it can also mean giving time, or a listening ear, or kindness, or a smile, or just about anything. So you see, you don’t have to be rich to be generous – we ALL have things we can give. In what ways do you show generosity in your everyday life? How are other people generous toward you?

HONESTY – Honesty is truthfulness. It means you are not going to lie or cheat or steal. Honesty is one of the building blocks of strong character, and it is something you display every day of your life. Do you think of yourself as an honest person? Do you think other people consider you to be honest? Is it ever OK to NOT be honest with people?

HUMILITY – Humility means being humble, or not thinking that you’re "all that"! It’s important for you to be confident about yourself. But going too far means you’re cocky, and that’s not a good thing. Humility makes you believe that there is still more you can do to learn and improve. Do you know someone who could use a dose of humility? Have you ever gone a little overboard and forgotten about being humble?

INITIATIVE – Initiative is your ability to get going. It’s that drive that gets you started on doing your homework, or mowing the grass, or cleaning your room. It’s also what helps you get others moving on things, like starting a group project at school or getting the team to start warming up before baseball practice. Among your friends, which ones show initiative? Do you show initiative in doing things you are responsible for?

INTEGRITY – Integrity is like a code of honor. If you have integrity, it means that you have certain values and beliefs that you live by. It also means you respect the values and beliefs of others. Integrity is a lot like honesty – it’s one of the building blocks of character. Who are some of the adults in your life who have a lot of integrity? Can you think of any celebrities who are rich and famous but seem to LACK integrity?

KINDNESS – Kindness is just a matter of being nice. Nice to people, nice to animals, nice to nature, nice to other peoples’ property…you know, just being NICE. It sounds so simple, but sometimes people are so wrapped up in themselves and their own problems that they stop being kind to each other. Do you make a habit of being kind? What are some things that you can do to help spread kindness in your school?

LEADERSHIP – Leadership means taking charge or setting an example for others. You don’t have to be the smartest student or the best athlete or the most popular kid in school to be a leader. Anyone can be a leader – you just need good work habits and strong character. What are some of the character traits of a good leader? How can YOU be a leader at school, or on your team, or in your outside activities?

LOYALTY – Loyalty is faithfulness. It means standing by someone even when times get tough. Loyalty is an important part of friendship. Just be sure that you don’t show "loyalty" to a friend by doing something that you KNOW is wrong. A true friend would never put you in that position. Has a friend ever questioned your loyalty? What are the consequences of doing something that you KNOW is wrong?

MOTIVATION – Motivation is something that causes you to take action. It’s a feeling or event that gets you moving. People who are motivated have a better chance of reaching the goals they set for themselves. What are some of the things that motivate you? What are some things that you just can’t seem to get motivated to start on?

OPTIMISM – Optimism means having a positive outlook on things. It means thinking that things are going to turn out well. People who are optimistic usually plan ahead and prepare for the things they are about to do, and sometimes that helps things turn out well. Why is it good for you to be optimistic? What are some things you can do to help a friend who always seems "down" and lacks optimism?

PATIENCE – Patience is the ability to wait for things without whining or complaining. It is a quality that many people do not have, and it can take a long time to develop. You might want something NOW, but sometimes you have to be patient and wait. Who is the most patient person in your home? What are some ways in which you have been impatient lately?

POLITENESS – Politeness means speaking and acting in a civil way and using good manners. It’s a lot like courtesy and kindness. Another way to put it is being "not rude". Being polite means you know how to act in social settings like a banquet or a big family gathering. What are some phrases you would use when you are speaking politely? If someone is polite to you, does that also mean they are being honest with you?

RESOURCEFULNESS – Resourcefulness is the ability to find a way to get things done. It means you can figure things out even if the answers aren’t right there in front of you. If you are resourceful, you will be more successful in school and in your chosen career. Can you think of some ways that you have been resourceful in solving a problem or getting something done? How will resourcefulness help you in your career?

RESPECT – Respect means showing regard for other people’s feelings or possessions. It is an attitude that you display every day. Showing respect for others is very important in the way you relate to people, and it is a HUGE part of your character. What are some ways you can show respect for your teachers during class? What are some of the harmful things that can happen when people show disrespect for others?

RESPONSIBILITY – Responsibility is what you are showing when you own up to something. When you are responsible, you take control of your actions and your obligations. It might also mean taking the blame for something that is your fault rather than pointing the finger at someone else. Do you accept responsibility for your actions? In what ways do you need to start becoming more responsible?

SINCERITY – Sincerity means being real and genuine – not fake. It means speaking or acting "from the heart" and really meaning it. Sincerity is often the basis of very strong friendships, because you know that person is being real with you. What is the difference between sincerity and politeness? Have you ever been polite to someone and then realized that you were not sincere?

TEAMWORK – Teamwork means working together to achieve a common goal. The goal could be having a winning football team, putting together the coolest project for science class, or having the band sound better than ever! Teamwork can lead to great things, but everyone has to do their share. Are you a "team player"? What can you do if someone is not working hard enough to help the team succeed?

TOLERANCE – Tolerance is your ability to accept values, practices, or beliefs that differ from your own. It also means accepting people who come from different places and have different backgrounds. You will need to be tolerant as you explore the world and meet new people. Do you tolerate different views, opinions, and beliefs? How do you handle being the "odd man out" when you feel like you’re different from everyone else?

TRUSTWORTHINESS – Trustworthiness means you are worthy of someone’s trust. People know they can trust you and believe in you because of the kind of person you are. People who are trustworthy are often given a lot of responsibility because they can get the job done. Who is one of the most trustworthy people you know? What are some ways that you can show your parents that you are trustworthy?

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