John Maxwell on Leadership

Going Beyond Talent: Four Cores of Character


Are you a person of character? According to John Maxwell in Beyond Talent, “The choice to develop strong character may not be the most important to make the most of your talent. But it is certainly the most important to make sure you don’t make the least of your talent.” 1

Character protects your talent – and allows you to build upon what you already have. In order to protect our talent, we must invest in that which is hidden below the surface. Similar to an iceberg, there is more than meets the eye. Strong character allows talent to hold up when storms come.

“Character creates a foundation upon which the structure of your talent and your life can build. If there are cracks in that foundation, you cannot build much.” 2

Here we explore the four cores that make up character. They are as follows:

1.    Self-Discipline
“Self-discipline is the ability to do what is right even when you don’t feel like doing it.” 3

The most important victory is to conquer self. When give up or let ourselves live in mediocrity, our leadership will never reach its potential. However, being disciplined maximizes our abilities, our character, and in addition to our talent, will help us win the battle within.

2.    Core Values
“Core values give order and structure to an individual’s inner life, and when that inner life is in order, a person can navigate almost anything the world throws at him.” 4

John encourages us to write down our core values and strive to live them out each day. Those core values can be a guiding light during the darkest of moments. By following that “beacon,” a leader has the chance to show that his or her talent is not just skin deep, but rather that it is protected and sustained by the heart.

3.    A Sense of Identity
“No matter how hard you try, you cannot consistently behave in a way that is inconsistent with how you see yourself.” 5

Ask yourself this question: “Who am I?” Your answer is one that will drive what you do and how you act. In order to protect our identities, the “face” we wear alone must be the same as the one we wear in public. Without consistency, our lack of identity will impact our character, and in turn – our talent.

4.     Integrity
“When values, thoughts, feelings, and actions are in alignment, a person becomes focused and his character is strengthened.” 6

Integrity is crucial for any leader. With it, leaders avoid confusion and internal conflict. It allows leaders to follow a balanced path, where character and talent work hand in hand. With an aligned moral compass, integrity can aid in building the strong foundation upon which talent can rest.

Overall, “character shows that who you are and who you appear to be are one and the same.” 7 As leaders, we must communicate consistency to our team. With that evenness, we have the opportunity to make a greater impact on those around us. That will ultimately not only strengthen our talent, but also the talent of those we influence.

Today, begin by making a list of your core values. What do those look like? We’d love for you to share them with us below or on Facebook or Twitter using #BeyondTalent.
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1 Beyond Talent, pg. 201
2 Beyond Talent, pg. 201
3 Beyond Talent, pg. 196
4 Beyond Talent, pg. 198
5 Beyond Talent, pg. 199
6 Beyond Talent, pg. 200
7 Beyond Talent, pg. 201


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