The Nature of Applied Character Development

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The Nature of Applied Character Development

Post: # 24Post DrJessieND »


One of the things that has helped me tremendously along the way over the past 25 years is a particular way of addressing character development. I have learned that in order to fulfill something worthwhile, such as a life goal, we must know WHAT particular character trait or traits are necessary for its accomplishment. This is so overlooked in business coaching, life coaching, etc. These systems focus on the action steps required, which to me, is only half of the equation. The other half is to investigate what personality traits are necessary to implement the action steps. This is what I call applied character development.

For example, let's say you have a life goal to have a relationship. At the time, you are single, and feel out of shape. You decide to lose those 12 lbs you gained by working from home and being in lock down in a pandemic so you further decide you need to join a gym, get in shape so you can start dating. Currently, you are not in shape. When you consider this goal, although it is real and important to you, it is also intimidating, and even overwhelming as far as how you are going to take those action steps. So here is where applied character development comes in. (Remember this could be any important goal in any category, finances, health, etc.)

We have to look at the reality of where we ACTUALLY are, and ask ourselves what kind of personality traits we are deficient in, that we need more of in order to start taking action steps.

The most frequent one, surprisingly, is compassion for Self! Our culture trains us to be very critical and hard on ourselves, which creates a lot of unhealthy thinking which will undermine our productivity. To grow beyond this type of thinking is not easy, yet it is required in order to develop and grow at all, in the first place.

Notice that we are addressing this developmental aspect ahead of applying any other action steps. We have determined our goal, and the most powerful thing will be to determine what to be in development with while pursuing the goal/actions. That way we can stay out of overwhelm and create a clear pathway to achieve our goal.

If we are in development with having more compassion for ourselves, then we can literally imagine that we are in a simulation, and everything happening IN the simulation is to assist us in generating more compassion for ourselves. What this accomplishes is that it gives us a platform from which we can brain train and address any obstacles that arise.

Of course obstacles are going to arise and when they do we can say, "Ah, let's have some more compassion for myself, this is disruptive, and a little scary. Let me do some brain training until I feel safe and secure within myself again."

We learn that we can be loving with ourselves, rather than harshly critical. As we continue to apply this exact character development exercise in our everyday lives, we start to become more capable and competent.

We make progress, accomplish mile stones and then the next action step presents: Time to start dating. Oh boy! Does that bring up a lot!! Good thing we can brain train over at, it is also a great thing that we had been developing more compassion for ourselves, so we actually do the brain work, and discover that the next character trait required is more courage. So off we go into the next simulation, witnessing how we must keep having more courage in all of these every day little things while continuing to brain train. This leads to being able to take the bigger action step, as we truly developed that courage through every day living and the awareness of what we were developing.

This is an infinite process, this applied character development, it never ends. If we stick to the example, imagine starting to date and then the usual disruptions show up in that process: rejection, or having to reject someone. We can quickly see that more character development would be required to fulfill those actions with intelligence and compassion. If faced with rejection, for instance more self-confidence is required developmentally in order not to take it personally.

The list of character developmental traits just goes on and on. As you fall in love, it might be learning how to receive your partner's love or learning how to pace yourself in the relationship and not go too fast. Later, still you discover that you need to be in development with setting boundaries, so the relationship stays healthy.

I find applied character development one of the most exciting things about being human. It has powerful ramifications for increasing one's A.Q.(Actualization Quotient), which will be discussed more in future articles.