One question I’ve noticed that stumps very intelligent and successful people is this: “What makes a great person?” It’s an interesting irony that people can achieve high levels of status and worldly success and not really know what qualities they value most in people and what values they have in life.
It probably also explains why we frequently read about notable people who appear to have achieved success and influence who make bad choices that ruin their career and reputation.
The same could be true for us. When is the last time you sat and wrote down on paper the qualities you value most? My experience in working with people is that most of us have not done this ‘simple’ exercise.
One reason is that most people don’t find it simple. They may be worried about getting it wrong or that their answers may not be pleasing to someone else. Or, they may be concerned that once they write them down it will be somehow constricting or limit their lifestyle.
While these reasons may seem logical, in reality, identifying the qualities and characteristics you value has a powerful effect. It’ll provide you with clarity and direction to guide your path and to lead an authentic life.
So, what is a simple method you can use to help discover the attributes you value most? Try these two exercises.
First: Identify and write down the names of some people you admire the most. They could be people you know personally, or people you admire from afar (like a public figure, an executive, an author, etc.). In most cases it’ll be someone who’s had influence and impact on your life. Write down the qualities and characteristics about these people that you admire the most?
Second: If you have kids, answer this question. What are the qualities and characteristics you want your kids to acquire and demonstrate?
As you review your answers, identify which are the most important to you. Your top five will reveal those attributes that are most reflective of the qualities that you value and that you aspire to demonstrate in your own life.
Now that you know them, does the way you’re living reflect those attributes? A way to help guide your choices and keep your self in check is to reflect on how you did at the end of each day. Write down your top five and at the end of each day take a few minutes and ask yourself, on a scale from one to five, how well did your behavior for that day reflect each word on your list?
What you focus on grows. By doing this over a period of time you will find yourself growing in these attributes and living a more authentic and genuine life. The life of a great person.