I offered a seat to a senior citizen onboard a train in New Jersey, USA few years back and she smilingly declined. I did so out of my Indian values but the values exhibited by that old woman left me startled. She just did not show independence but what stood out for me was CHARACTER. She stood out as somebody who despite her frail looks was strong inside.
This trip was an eye opener as to why more people flourish in the west more than the east.
I got my answer in two words. HONESTY & CHARACTER
I am proud of belonging to the east and what it offers to the world but I love people’s honesty and character in the west.
This is what has produced great number of leaders there.
Honesty is the greatest differentiator between a great leader and an average leader. The average leader hence never rises up to achieve what he aimed for.
One could say how many leaders are honest in India? Fair point.
That’s the precise reason they stand exposed and do not command the respect a real leader deserves.
One of the most comprehensive surveys done on more than 75000 people on six continents: Africa, North America, South America, Asia, Europe and Australia to find out what’s admired the most in leaders, threw up one single quality. Honesty.
This is also the reason why leaders fall from grace. People focus too much on competence but too less on character.
If we can’t trust each other in a country what kind of a society we are leaving for our kids, where we teach children not to take people on their face value? We sow the seeds of mistrust.
Wherever there is more fraud, deceit and betrayal, in other words compromise on character and honesty, success is hard to find.
How much of it is found in India and is that the reason we have not flourished the way we should have considering the talent we have amongst us?
So is there a connection between character, honesty and success?
There certainly is.
People look upto leaders with character and honesty. Ratan Tata, Narayan Murthy are few revered examples of the business world.
We make our reputation from what people believe about us while our character is who we are on the inside.
The reputation will take care of itself if your character is strong and uncompromising.
You may do what’s right if people are looking at you but are you still doing the right thing when nobody is looking at you?
An old story comes to my mind.
I didn’t own a car then and would travel in autos. I didn’t have a note of 50 to give to the auto driver. He was a familiar face outside my workplace. He asked me to give him later.
I didn’t meet him for more than a month but his 50 bucks were playing on my mind. After more than 50 days I spotted him, outside my office. I leapt to hand over a note of 50 to him. He looked surprised. He had forgotten. I reminded him that I owed him 50 bucks. It brought a smile on his face as he had forgotten.
This was nothing great on my part but I have a philosophy of not owing anything to anyone as much possible. Giving gives more joy than taking from someone.
Coming back to how honesty, character is linked to success in the outer world.
When you are good, real and authentic on the inside, you attract the same on the outside.
The doors of success opens when one is true to oneself on the inside. Saying something and doing something else compromises the inner voice.
A lot of people disregard their inner voice, their soul’s yearning and doing so diminishes them from inside. It reflects and changes who they are on the outside. It certainly determines their state of affairs and what they achieve.
I have seen a lot of people doing well financially and professionally for some time but very few for life. Those who do are remarkably committed to bettering themselves not only outside of them but also inside of them.
The growth of character determines where you land up in your career journey. It leaves a big imprint in your personal life too. If you know and stand by your values, you won’t compromise on what you want and will work towards to it.
Sadly, character and honesty are traits that have not been valued enough . But when it comes to spilling the beans, this is what makes the real difference.
The better you care and treat people you work with and work for, the better the returns on what you do. When you have enough character, you would not compromise on what you should get. You would strive to work towards it and realise it one day.
Success is truly an inside job.