Given a choice: $1 million instant cash, or an exceptional character that will be implanted into you. Which will you choose?
I believe the younger-me will choose the $1 million cash without any hesitation. Now, I’m rather pleased to say that I will choose the latter. “Why?” you may ask. Well, the answer is simple, have you ever heard of the proverb ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime‘? Yeah, along the same lines, if you had given me that million dollars, satisfaction/gratification is gained instantly but yet, it won’t last. As soon as I spend all of it, it can never be gotten back. However, if I’ve got an exemplary character, let alone a million dollar, I’d say even 10 will not be a problem to acquire. Having said that, this was all said with few assumptions made. You can go on and argue that if you gave a person that million dollars, he/she can go on to improve himself, his character, by going to all those courses, seminars and all that. Like I said, assumptions have been made.
Moving on, so… Character. I would like to think that a great character is an intangible asset that, most of the time, can’t be seen prima facie. We are an amalgam of qualities, and we change them every now and then, and then we refine them so that it all fits into what we’re experiencing from day to day. An example would be: If you had an abusive father that hits you every day for no particular reason, wouldn’t hatred be bred in you. And then finally, one unfortunate day, you’d snap and realise you had enough and thereby returning the favour. Chances are, a few possible character traits would have likely been developed along the way, namely: vigilance, aggression, cynicism, erraticism and impulsiveness, just to name a few. You couldn’t possibly think humour and a forgiving character be a result of those beatings, right? From that bad example given by me, you can see how environment directly affects the nature of a person, that eventually leads to them having a good or bad character, and thereby affecting their future. However, because of human complexity, many unpredictable things can happen as well. Ceteris paribus, that above is what i think may likely happen.
So in short, Environment <=> Character. You can either let environment mould your character or you after knowing all these, mould your character and change your environment — the people; the drama; the experience you receive.
However, I do also agree that sometimes you do not have much of a choice — imagine being born in rural Africa — and it’s difficult to break free from the chains of hardship and poverty. But do know this, tough times don’t last, tough people do; these tough times you face, they will eventually shape you to become who you truly are. Never, ever, give up on yourself. Keep improving, keep striving; Rome was not built in a day.
To end it off, I’d like to say, character is what ultimately attracts everything else in life. So don’t worry about the rest of things, build a great character, and all other things will naturally fall into place.