“When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.” Billy Graham

In order to be successful, does character matter? Recently, this was discussed in a wonderful article from Business Insider via Toastmaster’s International. It discussed two points which apply to professional speakers but can be expanded to all of those on the path to success. The first is the importance of authenticity and trust. The second refers to substance over style. In this day and age where it is often the reverse which seems to draw attention, substance always triumphs in the end.

Investors Business Daily (IBD) prints their ten secrets of success which I often reference. As I quoted above this secret which should really not be a secret is what matters most. As they indicate regularly, without it, the others are insignificant. Some might argue that people such as Bernie Madoff were successful until his downfall, and there may be others who subscribe to the same philosophy and remain at large. This may be true, but are they truly successful? In fact, even if they appear to be, their outward veneer supports a weak and fallacious concoction which is eventually exposed.

History provides us with human beings who are memorable because of their honorable characters, but what about those humble individuals who may be less famous yet perform courageous deeds. Many in our military are examples of fine human beings who often give the ultimate sacrifice for their brothers/sisters and country. Their courage often has no bounds. I remember reading about one who died because he removed his helmet to cover a grenade in order to protect those around him. A few years ago, Jared Monti, a soldier serving in Afganistan was given the Medal of Honor posthumously after running through gunfire in an attempt to rescue one of his brothers. I cried profusely when I read about this most selfless man who regularly put others before him. This is often the case for such valiant people.

There are many examples of individuals world wide who dedicate themselves for the sole purpose of helping humanity. Frequently, their footprints go unnoticed. Although most of us will not be devoted on such a large scale, cumulative displays of sincerity, generosity, and appreciation contribute to character and nobility. Not only does it make a difference for others, but we feel better about ourselves. To define success, is not about how much money one accumulates, how many children one births, how handsome or beautiful one’s spouse is outwardly or how many degrees one may have. Yes, these accomplishments can be experienced with pride and hopefully with some humility, but truly without character, outward achievements are void. Bona fide success, in my humble opinion, does not have a finishing line. It is about striving to be a good, not perfect, human being all the days of our lives.

References and Suggested Readings:

Evans, P.(2016, March 2). The 2 Unbreakable Laws Of Public Speaking. Business Insider.

Phillips, M. (2009, September 17). Soldier To Receive Medal Of Honor. The Wall Street Journal.