How to Develop Character

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    143 people had breakthroughs this week. Will the next one be you?

    One thing for you to think about

    Competence is how good you are when there is something to gain. Character is how good you are when there is nothing to gain.

    People will reward you for competence. But people will only love you for your character.

    Reflect: Then consider sharing this thought with others.

    Two things for you to ask yourself

    It’s hard enough to be competent. It’s even harder to have character. Do you believe you’re someone of character? Are you able to do the right thing or do something well when no one is looking or when there is nothing to gain?

    (Don’t worry, most of us struggle with this.)

    Recommended: Use these as journaling prompts for the week.

    One thing for you to try this week

    Do something this week even though you won’t be rewarded for it. Or, at least, not rewarded externally. You might be surprised at how rewarding it is internally. Then, let me know how it went.

    Remember: Small changes lead to lasting breakthroughs. Reply to this email and let me know how it went for you.

    Last week’s breakthroughs

    In last week’s newsletter, I extolled the virtues of reading and asked you to read something you wouldn’t normally read, and see how it changes you.

    Hanna’s starting a book she’s been dreading reading:

    This email finds me at an interesting time when I just decided to start a book I’ve longed to read but if I’m being transparent, I have been scared to start: ‘The Body Keeps the Score’ by Bessel van der Kolk.

    Now this isn’t necessarily out of my usual genre preference, I’m a self-help nut. But reading this book I feel will help me heal the parts of myself that I have trouble really looking at.

    I’m excited, nervous, but most of all I feel ready to learn how trauma has been running my life behind the scenes and hopefully how to cope and move forward healthily.

    A novel Jennifer read forever changed her:

    I have lived in Texas my entire life. Illegal immigration is a difficult and complicated constant here. I read a novel a few years ago about the time immigrants from Central America started heading en masse for the US. It’s about the parallel lives of two people, a successful woman in Austin who starts to feel a loss of purpose and a young girl from Honduras making her way to her mother who is already in Texas.

    I had an intellectual understanding of what was involved in that type of journey but wasn’t prepared for the emotional experience of seeing it through another person’s eyes. I was on vacation with my husband and just had to ask for his patience and understanding as I ugly cried through the whole book which I couldn’t put down. The horrendous conditions of immigration contrasted with the everyday life of someone living her best life in Austin made for a very compelling read.

    The empathy I gained has stayed with me to this day, particularly when I hear people dehumanize folks who are risking everything to simply find what we in America take for granted every single day.

    Finally, Kylie is taking my prompt as affirmation that she’s on the right path (you are!):

    It is so interesting that this week’s prompt is reading things you normally wouldn’t. I’m in the process of starting a podcast and book club at my university for this exact purpose.

    The podcast/club focuses on diversity and inclusivity in books/authors. My hope is to eventually interview the authors, but with a different format. We would of course talk about their own publications, but I really want to ask them what books impacted or inspired them.

    I started reading books I normally wouldn’t after a professor set a similar prompt, and I think this club will attract all sorts of people who also read things that they normally wouldn’t.

    Now that I’m so close to starting these, I’ve been having imposter syndrome, and this prompt feels like an affirmation to me.

    I started a book club when I lived in New York simply to help me read books I wanted to read, but was intimidated to start. It worked. And it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my time there.

    As always, send your breakthroughs by simply replying to this email. Let me know if you’d prefer to remain anonymous.

    Until next week,

    Mark Manson

    #1 New York Times Bestselling Author
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