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Character Matters: Inside Out—Doing Out of Being

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Christopher H. McKinney Sr.
June 13, 2022

Success should be an inside out process. True lasting success always starts on the inside of an individual. We must learn to “do out of being.” There are many people that have a “success veneer,” meaning they obtain an exceedingly high level of success because they are exceptionally talented and skilled at what they do, but internally it is not the same. Internally there are some character flaws. They are “being out of doing.”

When the internal person is developed, we do things based on who and what we are internally. Meaning when we take the time to develop integrity internally, it is much easier to do integrity externally. This is what it means to “do out of being.”

“Eventually the chickens come home to roost, even if only in our minds.”

Often the external person develops faster than the internal person because we are talented. Our talent can bring more responsibility, authority and promotions, while our morals, values, beliefs and character remain neglected. When left undeveloped, whether stated or unstated, a mantra of “the ends justify the means,” starts to develop. As we continue to sharpen our talent, more good things tend to come our way because we become exceptionally good at what we do. This is “being out of doing.” 

The more we do (utilize our talent successfully), we are “being out of doing.” When we are exceptionally good at something, it tends to lead to rewards. The rewards typically bring additional responsibilities, yet because we do not address character flaws, we give the perception of a well put together executive, teacher, politician, accountant, etc. But when external pressure is applied, the internal flaws inevitably come to the surface. This is the veneer; our talent makes us look very “shiny, polished and put together.”

 “This lack of character development can lead to our demise right under our very own noses.”

For example, we get promoted to a position of supervisory responsibility, and it is expected that we treat people fairly and manage resources with integrity. However, when temptation comes in—whichever form it comes—and we succumb to it, this is when the cracks and defects of the internal person start to show up externally. If left unchecked the defects will permeate the entire structure of the person and the house will inevitably one day collapse due to its poorly constructed framework.

What makes the situation worse is that, as we ascend there are folks who start to look up to us. Our fall from grace, seemingly due to poor judgement, can be very heart breaking for those that admire us and they may wonder, “How could that have happened?” I submit to you that it may have occurred because we did not develop a solid moral foundation, or values and beliefs system or character prior to our ascension. Maybe we were “being out of doing” versus “doing out of being.” 

Again, doing out of being leads to a lack of growth in our morals, values, beliefs and character. This lack of character development can lead to our demise right under our very own noses. Sometimes we are arrogant. Sometimes we have a lack of self-awareness. Sometimes there are those in leadership roles who facilitate the lack of development by not holding us accountable to the standards they expect. Sometimes it is all of the above.

“Anything built without good character is a house of cards.”

A problem that often arises is it is so easy for us as individuals to focus on our talent development and neglect our character. The benefits and results of maturing our talent can be seen quickly and are very satisfying. Additionally, there are supervisors who do not care about the internal growth. They only care about the bottom line. This further promotes focusing on talent and at the expense of character as the carrot is associated with producing short-term results.

Character development on the other hand takes time to develop and you often do not see the fruit of good character until much farther down the road. Yet good character provides the foundation upon which long-term success can stand. Anything built without good character is a house of cards. Good character prevents nightmares from the “career ghosts of the past.”

True, sustained, long-term success is generated by going through “the process.”  The process requires reflection, evaluation, a plan, action and accountability. The process is NEVER fun! The process is often painful because we must confront the ugly sides of ourselves. The short-term down sides of making hard adjustments are unappealing, but to provide the sound ethical leadership the majority of Americans desire, it is necessary that we go through the process.

“Character cannot be microwaved.”

We must begin today and continually work to develop our talents and character each day of our lives with more emphasis on character. We cannot wait until we move into senior management, become a shift supervisor, become a partner or become the assistant store manager. Once we are in these roles, it is expected that we will have sound character.

Character cannot be developed overnight. Character cannot be microwaved. Character must be developed day-by-day, consistently over time. This leads to the compound interest effect, which is the exact same thing that happens to our money when we consistently invest.

Character must go through the fire to be purified, much the same as precious metals. The impurities must be burned off and then what remains after having withstood the fire, which is good character, will manage to sustain us in the long-term… “Character Gold.”   


Author: Christopher McKinney Sr. is the founder/CEO of 10X Leadership Consulting (10XLC)  10XLC is a premier consulting company that identifies and diagnoses leadership issues that impede the development and growth. They also help resolve strategy, cultural, and teamwork challenges, process redundancy and communication challenges. He also served as the CEO of a Planning District (COG) supporting four rural South Carolina counties. Prior to service at the COG, he retired from the USAF after 30 years as a Command Chief Master Sergeant. Email: [email protected]; Twitter: @10XLC; Facebook: @10XLC; www.10XLC.consulting

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