What Character Strengths Matter Most?

Success & Failure

The 'must read' article of the moment is called "What if the Secret to Success is Failure?" It was published last week in the New York Times, and whether you're considering your own character or that of a progeny, it's worth a read.

The premise of the article (which you can find here) is that character - as much as IQ - determines academic success, and continuing on, success in life. And so we're clear, a successful life is defined as one that is happy, meaningful and productive.

The challenge is that many parents today (especially affluent, successful ones) simultaneously push their kids to excel, yet protect them from failure. And this inhibits their character growth.

Interested in the seven most important character traits for success? We were, too. They're defined as zest, grit, self-control, social intelligence, gratitude, optimism and curiosity.

The article does highlight that these are more 'performance character' traits as opposed to 'moral character' traits, which would include things like fairness, generosity, integrity, inclusion, tolerance, and diversity.

Out to dinner with friends the other night, this article came up. We are all aged 40-45, and have all had professional careers on which we worked (and are working) very hard. Story after story was told about how the 'younger generations' just don't seem to have what we can now call 'grit'. We worked hard and paid our dues. They expect to stroll into a corner office after six months on the job. Some don't even make it six months because their bosses won't put up with their shenanigans. "I wonder if that's why I'm having so much trouble with one of my employees," a friend commented.

Is it too late for our character development? Probably. But if there is a progeny out there, remember this article when he forgets his lunch money next time.

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