Tuesday, October 6, 2015
Author:  Doug McCann
Forthcoming Book:  "So You're A Nice Guy and Want To Be In Business"

Good Will & Good Character!

Stephen Covey - Dale Carnegie - Doug McCann - AuthorDescriptively speaking, the dictionary characterizes good will as an attitude of kindness or friendliness; benevolence; and a cheerful willingness.  From generation to generation, we have learned the importance of good will from our parents, spiritual leaders and mentors, but in today's busy, noisy world there exists evidence that these lessons seem to be watered down or perhaps even missing.

I find it a sad reflection on the state of our society, when media, like CBC Radio, finds the need to do pieces on teaching parents how to teach their children to be grateful, empathetic and to acquire a variety of virtues.  In learning these lessons, we hope that the efforts are rooted in sincerity - knowing one’s integrity need not be questioned.

Ah... but there within may be the real challenge.  Good will may only be a phrase if not borne out of the heart and soul.  Integrity is about character - more than just exhibited manners.  Long before influences like the CBC, we had people like Dale Carnegie teaching us how to win and influence friends and acquaintances.  He believed you could change people’s behaviour by simply changing your own reactions to them. Even today's generation of Dale Carnegie's, the likes of Tony Robbins, have been trying to promote similar etiquette. Realizing that Robbins’ methods were to acquire effective patterns of behaviour of exceptional people, I rather thought I preferred Carnegie’s ideals.  After all, Carnegie tried to emphasize politeness and the importance of showing interest in others.  Robbins' approach was more about copying others’ modus operandi.  The idea of having Carnegie-like friends seemed more important to me.

Then, along came Stephen Covey (sadly, he passed away in the summer of 2012) who did his homework reviewing success literature dating back 200 years.  He discovered that the Carnegie’s and Robbins’ of the world were promoting what amounted to “Personality Ethic”, while influential people and literary icons from the mid 1700's to the very early 1900’s subscribed to the ideals of building “Character Ethic”.  And the difference?  “Personality Ethic” which has been all the rage in modern day methodology refers to ‘appearance’, while the endeavour to strive for “Character Ethic” placed the emphasis on what ‘actually is’, and not ‘what appears to be’.

Covey, felt that building first on good character was a priority - in fact, essential to making a real effective difference in our own lives and the people we interact.  He believed achieving character based on principles, values and virtues, these of which remain static, is more conducive to being sincere, maintaining a genuine interest in others and a better way of avoiding the danger of falling into a self-serving, deceitful pattern.  While technique has its place, Covey stressed the importance of character by comparing it to the larger part of the iceberg - what you don’t see, but what is sustaining, a person’s real courage - his or her integrity.

So, while I still respect Carnegie, I hold in higher esteem the advice of Covey, and I thought it rather timely to reflect on how important it is that our actions come from the depths of our hearts and souls and that we are not just going through the motions.

Whether in business, or personal and family circles, we can benefit by being surrounded by people of “Character Ethic”, people who exercise a genuine interest and concern for each of us.  True friends who are sincere, compassionate and dependable make one richer than having millions tucked in a bank.  This message is also intended to encourage the practice of these principles and values in your dealings as a self employed individual.  It is a most competitive world out there, but for the most part, we all have some very unique tools and resources within ourselves we can use to compete.  By practicing the ideals of Stephen Covey we are practicing exceptional customer and personal service, and that is usually far more attractive to the consumer!

I welcome your feedback!  Thank you for reading!