Attitude and Character

Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.” ~ Albert Einstein

Character flaws don’t just happen. They are formed over time like stalactites in a cave. They are rigid, yet ultimately fragile and they invariably complicate the passage from this moment to the next. Character flaws are not a necessity, only an unfortunate side-effect of careless attitudes.

If you are concerned to improve upon your character flaws, you must first make a thorough review of your daily attitude. How do you tend to receive the daily challenges which arise in your day? Are you upset by them, angered or thrown for a loop or do you take them in stride, thinking first and reacting later? Far too many people are tripped up on this point alone: they shoot first and ask questions later.

We tend to be creatures of habit. We sit in the same seats in a meeting room or a conference, even if it extends over several days. We drive the same routes to and from our daily stops despite the likely availability of many other routes. We form routines that get us up and going in the morning and that provide an initial rhythm for the day. These habits become engraved in our consciousness over time to the point that more and more of our day can be (and is likely) performed on an unconscious basis.

Most over time develop habits of reaction to external circumstance. When life lobs a sweet opportunity over the plate they tend to respond one way, while the curve balls receive a different, but similarly predictable treatment. This is the basic mechanism behind prejudice, jumping to conclusions and pet peeves.

Why not meet everything that comes your way with equanimity, poise and an eye for making the best use of what does unfold in your field of circumstance, no matter how favorably or unfavorably it is clothed. Think of attitude this way: attitude is the basic inclination with which you tend to confront the familiar as well as the unknown. It is just as easy to develop a habit of emphasizing the opportunity inherent in any circumstance no matter how infinitesimal it might be as it is to complain, deride, whine and indulge in self-pity.

Your habitual attitude in this sense is what shapes your character. Your character is not something you were born with, neither is it your personality. It is built over time, laid like bricks based on how you respond to each and every circumstance that comes your way. Deliberately change your attitude and step by step you begin to reshape your character.

If anything, remember this point: nothing will ever come your way that is bigger than your ability to handle it with dignity, creativity and aplomb!

13 thoughts on “Attitude and Character

  1. Duffer

    Zig Ziglar once wrote “Attitude Determines Altitude”. I think what he meant is exactly as you (and Mr Einstein) have so beautifully articulated, that our Character is determined by our Attitude. And one way of determining and discovering that is to observe what we do and how we do it under pressure. It is easy to look like one with great character when all is going great; it is often something entirely different when things aren’t going quite as well as we would like. Another piece of advice that i received several years ago and that has been invaluable to me is to Hold Steady when the pressure does come on. What i have always felt is that to hold steady with my true character in my consciousness when for example the going gets a little tough on occasion is a wise choice. Incidentally, i have also discovered that when one does hold steady that not as many disasters occur!

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  2. TW

    This post is on target relative to my quest and my conversations ongoing with my 12 year old daughter. The process of building character is inherent in how we act in every given moment, are we ever really told this? It is great to understand that character can be reshaped, even if we missed some very important opportunities as children. My youngest is learning now as a first time ” team” member on a volleyball team, that her character will ring loud and clear with each reaction to a missed shot, competitive pressure and with accepting correction from a coach.We are able to see where she needs to shore up and where she is reliable and steadfast. I appreciate the comments from other readers and these posts, they are almost like the directions I never found when my children were born; I turned the “box” upside down over and over and no directions ever slid out until now…..Thanks so much!

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  3. Colin

    It is sometimes easier to see these things as they concern other people, and I find it helpful to know that people see me in the same way I see them. You have the power to change these things about yourself. It is a shame that people think that they are who they are, and they can’t help themselves for feeling a certain way or having a certain attitude. Well, frankly, that isn’t true. It is your choice, period. When you take issue with something, it is a choice, and you should make sure that it is worth it. These eccentricities that people develop over time are not necessary, they are just force of habit.

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  4. Ricardo B.

    That’s so funny in light of what many accept as their personality. We tend to cement our identity from something that we have built up over time, instead of seeing how quickly our own perception of ourselves can change if we start consciously doing things different. No doubt there are tendencies in personality traits, but just like genetics, they are shaped, expressed and/or silenced by the nature of the environment and ultimately can change over time. These environmental stimuli, and in this case it would mean specific changes in behavior and thus attitude, have the power to change our character. Whether we’re bilious or naive, or anything in between, we can change.
    Radiant eyes beget opportunities for change. The eyes are filled with light and once again, looking outward and losing any strong fixations you hold on yourself can provide the catalyst for growth, healing and becoming new. New beginnings always at hand!

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  5. Vincent

    Attitude is a direction of inclination and concern. If we are in the habit of maintaining orientation in the vibrancy and newness of life, we probably won’t form the numbing and lifless habits that so often characterize people.

    So often, routines and habits are formed and maintained as a strategy for avoiding any real consideration of certain painful realities – such as an absence or corrupted sense of purpose. A curious sort of comfort is then gleaned from almost anything that is predictable and requires little to no thought. Such habits, driven by the compulsion of emptiness, become addictions, and here we can see the source of so much of the irrationality and shallowness we see in people everywhere, and in ourselves on occasion in all likelihood.

    Struggling with individual addictions can seem helpful but often leads simply to modified patterns of addiction. If we are to address this condition with real effectiveness, the core of attitude, based in personal conviction, must be faced honestly.

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  6. Melissa Hake

    Maya Angelou once said, ” I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.”

    How much everyday events give us a chance to see our own character flaws, which means conversely in everyday events we have the chance to mend them. Our character is like a muscle, if you don’t build it at one point in your life, you won’t be able to use it when life needs you to be strong.

    Thanks for a great post Gregg!!

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  7. Doug

    With unemployment at an all time high in my state, attitude is the quality that sets you apart when we hirer. There’s sometimes a hundred applicants with good experience but how they are coping with their situation is of great interest to me, it’s a snapshot into their character.
    Sometimes attitude is the only thing we can control…I guess the next question is how’d you do with that?
    Great post, thanks.

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  8. DeeDee Miller

    “Deliberately change your attitude and step by step you begin to reshape your character.” This is my new favorite post! It is the most practical description of the mechanics of attitude, how it forms character, and how the opportunity for character development is always available. THANK YOU FOR A GREAT POST!!

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  9. Coco

    Well said Gregg. I noted through the years the people I could rely on for sound dependable help were the ones that consistently recognized the value of attitude. What ever the challenge I had to meet I could count on them to add buoyancy, always creating a sort of salve that eased the toughest of situations. These are my dearest friends and one of my assurances to them is to do the same. I don’t think we’ve ever discussed it, it’s just part of caring for those you love.

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