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Character. You may also know it as a habit. It’s something that you do, something that you think, something that is almost like a signature style that speaks to who you are. Today I’m going to tell you eight characteristics I believe are crucial to building a good reputation and important to have mastered on the path of success.
1 the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual
• the distinctive nature of something
the quality of being individual, typically in an interesting or unusual way
strength and originality in a person's nature
a person's good reputation
I think one of the main reasons character is such a huge part of the journey to success is because these are habits you need to cultivate in order to give the right impression to the right people. And of course, there are going to be times where we don’t necessarily put our best foot forward due to an off day or a crap situation. In order to be a good networker, you need to have good character and a professional demeanor.
I’m sure many people will agree with me when I say you need to have integrity in being your own boss. Even if you don’t have a team to lead or a people group to show off to, you need to set the example for yourself. Even if you don’t think people are watching, trust me when I say there is always someone watching. So how do you handle stressful situations? How do you handle confrontation and critique? Handling things well doesn’t just require good people skills, but integrity.
Don’t cheat yourself integrity because that will taint your reputation possibly forever in some people’s eyes. Set up strong morals for yourself and stick to them. Be honest with where you’re at and admit when you’re wrong. And I get it! That is a lot easier said than done, and I’ll even admit, I’m not the best at taking critique. I’m not the best at admitting when I’m wrong. But that doesn’t mean I won’t take the time and improve upon that. Understand that there will always be room to improve, but just because there’s room to improve doesn’t mean that people will actually choose to improve. So make a choice to be a person of integrity in your life, in your business, and in being your own boss.
2. Being On Time
Anyone that knows me well will know that my biggest pet peeve is being late or having people not show up on time. That is one thing that I can say confidently will drive me absolutely up the wall. My time is precious, and I understand that other people’s time is also very valuable. So I really make sure that I am on time to every meeting, every event, every job, every class, even on time in my own personal schedule. My version of being on time is being at the very least 5-10 minutes early. If you’re on the dot, you’re late. And people may think that is high maintenance of me, but I disagree. I know a good amount of people who feel disrespected when their time is not being valued by the person they’re meeting with. And I understand that if I wish and expect people to respect my time, I need to respect and value other people’s time.
I really don’t like this one, if I’m being honest with you. I’m quite stubborn and can be very hard-headed at times. If I believe something is right, I find it very difficult to shift my perspective, and that is not necessarily always a good thing. Thanks to my mother, I have learned the importance of being teachable by everyone. Yes, everyone, from the toddler I babysit to my wonderful friend who lived to be 97. You can learn something from EVERYONE, but you have to be open minded, you have to make a choice to listen to understand and see from their viewpoint, not listen to argue your opinion. It takes a lot to be able to do that— it requires you to lay down your pride. And I’m not sure I know a whole lot of people who enjoy laying down their pride and setting aside their opinions.
In being your own boss, you don’t just want people to be impressed with you, but more than likely you’ll want and even possibly need to gain their respect. And I’m not even saying that you need every human you come into contact with to respect you and who you are and what you stand for. No, you just need to gain the respect of the right people.
Here’s a tip: you gain people’s respect by valuing them, by respecting them, and by listening and learning from them. People find quite a bit of validation in themselves when people listen to them. So listen. Learn from people, especially those whom you want to respect you.
I’ll give you an example: Colton and Mikayla Whited are some of the most incredible young individuals I have ever met. They have drive, they have passion, they are teachable and constantly hungry to learn, and they love life. They are also some of the most successful 23 & 25 year old young adults I have ever met in my entire life, and I have the pleasure of learning from them and doing business with them. They have gained the respect not just from the people on their team, but even from the CEO and Co-Founder of Market America, JR & Loren Ridinger. Why? Because they were teachable. They earned the respect of so many, and you know what? They are some of the most humble, deserving, integral people I know. (Sending you both huge hugs!)
For as long as I can remember, my parents instilled in me, my siblings, and the church they founded a culture of honor. That is definitely one of our biggest values that isn’t just set in our household but in our entire lives. Honor is a huge thing. When you begin to see that knowing a certain person who has spoken into your life in a positive way, there are times you might feel something like, “Wow, I’m so honored to know that person.” Respect and honor go hand in hand.
There are quite a few people in my life that I feel that way about, and that’s a great thing! Because that means I’m surrounding myself with people who are positive influences on me, I’m surrounding myself with people who inspire me, I’m surrounding myself with people who are driven and motivated to be their own boss.
You know those days where your alarm goes off and you just don’t want to wake up? That’s the day you start off with an attitude of, “Get me through today please!” And as you continue that day, try as you might, the day just feels like it’s longer and longer and your exhausted and your eyes are watering from how overwhelmed you are?
I had one of those days recently. I woke up on a Wednesday morning after two very long days balanced between work and my ballet/physical activity schedule at 5AM, like usual. There was an internal battle going on from the moment I opened my eyes. My body said, “Please! Let us sleep! We’ve worked so much these past two days, we’re so tired! We’re sore! Please just sleep some more!” And my mind said, “Get up! Start your day, it’s going to be long, it’s going to be hard, but that’s okay because you’re going to overcome all of that!”
Oh, man. I was literally on the verge of tears at 5:30AM when I finally convinced myself to move my butt out of bed. My body was in so much pain from the soreness from dance and cleaning people’s houses no joke, I almost fell over getting out of bed. I didn’t want to put clothes on to get to my pilates class, but I did, and I drove there and worked out. My mindset was in a poor, poor, POOR state. I was asking myself every other minute, “Why are we here? I don’t want to be here. Are we done yet?”
This brings me to my next point.
As I continued on with my day, I felt more and more like crap. My frustration was taken out on my Mom (sorry Mom! I love you!), which made me even more frustrated with myself. When I left to go back to LA, I cried for a good while, and you know what? It felt really good to just release all the emotions and the feeling of being totally overwhelmed. I got myself through the traffic and to class, and the most rewarding part of my day was when Mr. Jose said to me: “You practiced that? (yes.) I can tell. It’s much, much better since last Thursday.”
MOST REWARDING, GRATIFYING, SATISFYING, AMAZING PART OF MY DAY. I was so proud of myself because before class, I was crying in the bathroom because I wasn’t sure how I was going to get through it. I am so, so, so proud of myself for pushing through the entire day because had I just given up, I would be one more day, one more week, possibly even one more month behind meeting my goal.
When you push through and persevere through the times where you’re overwhelmed, you’re depressed, you’re anxious, when you’re tired, you stretch your capacity just a little more, and today you are better than you were yesterday. You can do more today than you could yesterday. You have more confidence and belief in yourself today that will carry into your tomorrow than you did yesterday into today.
As cheesy as it sounds, don’t you dare ever give up on yourself.
8. Be Kind To Yourself
STOP BEATING YOURSELF UP. DO YOU HEAR ME? DO YOU? STOP IT. STOP IT RIGHT NOW.
My final point is probably one of the most crucial ones and can be one of the hardest to master, and that’s being kind to yourself. What does that look like? That looks like forgiving yourself. It looks like giving yourself the permission to makes mistakes and epically fail. It looks like shutting down those pity parties we all like to throw for ourselves when we don’t reach our goal or aspirations or when we see someone younger than us going after the life they want and somehow seem so far ahead of us.
Forgive yourself and move forward.
That’s one way you can be kind to yourself. Tell yourself that it’s alright you made the mistake. You’re human. If there is one thing the human race has mastered to a tee, it’s being able to screw up pretty epically. It’s okay to fail, but you need to fail forward. It’s important you don’t get stuck in the past, because technically speaking, the past doesn’t even exist anymore. Yesterday really doesn’t exist. Tomorrow doesn’t really exist. The only time that exists is now, and what are you doing right now? How are you handling your failures or mistakes?
Give yourself room to grow, which means being okay with messing up. Stop throwing yourself a pity party and move forward. Throwing yourself a pity party gives you an ability to make a bigger mess of something by making excuses for why you can’t, why you won’t, why you shouldn’t. But what about the reasons why you can? Why you will? Why you should? Give yourself the room to make mistakes, because it’s okay if you do. Let it go. (Cue frozen song).
So before we leave, I just want to say something: I, Ellie Kim, by no means have mastered any of these characteristics I am talking about. I, Ellie Kim, am by no means even 25% great at any of these. But I, Ellie Kim, will, can, and should master these characteristics and be the best version of me possible by exercising these practices.
Take one thing at a time. Focus on one character issue at a time, because if you spread yourself too thin, every area will suffer. Choose one of these to work on at a time, and once you’ve got a good grip on one and you begin to see positive results from it, choose another one and continue on.
You can. Stop making excuses and start making good choices. Oh my god, I’m beginning to sound like those parenting tapes. Yikes.
“Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.”
- James A. Michener
Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read this. I hope you’re enjoying this series! Stay tuned for next week, where I talk about the importance of Time Management. Ooh! That’s gonna be a fun one. I love you all! Have a fabulously fantastic week, and keep going after the life you want!
Hey, guess what?! You can now listen to this blogpost on SoundCloud! Listen to How To Be Your Own Boss Series!