Building Confidence and Character

Throughout our lives, we’ll all experience adversity—in our personal lives, our careers, or both. We meet adversity when we learn to take our first breath, and we encounter it again and again for the rest of our lives. Not only is adversity a great test of character, it’s often what motivates us to keep trying until we get it right.

But there are a couple of other things, namely power and mistakes, that test character, and have the potential to reveal much more about a person than adversity ever could.


When you’ve got everything you need and the ability to get pretty much whatever you want, it can be easy to lose sight of what’s important. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

In Plato’s Republic, he writes about a discussion he had with several men. One of those men is named Glaucon, and he argues that “no man would keep his hands off that which was not his own if he could safely take what he liked.” It’s a sad argument that leaves no room for common human decency.

Of course, people will always be tempted to take the easy way out, but someone with true character will resist that temptation and find the honest, fair way to get what they want or need. In fact, I’d go one step further and say that many people in power will consciously avoid using that power in an abusive or negative way, because they’re fully aware of how easy it is to become corrupted.


How we respond to our mistakes can give away a lot about our character. In his novel Confessor, Terry Goodkind, a successful fantasy writer, says, “I’m afraid that we all make mistakes. One of the things that define our character is how we handle mistakes. If we lie about having made a mistake, then it can’t be corrected and it festers. On the other hand, if we give up just because we made a mistake, even a big mistake, none of us would get far in life.”

And he’s right. I believe that mistakes are opportunities. They’re the wake-up call that tells us we’re doing something wrong and forces us to start over again, with a different approach.

Taking responsibility for mistakes is key to improving character. When we own up to our errors, we’re free to move on, and fix whatever caused the mistake in the first place. And when character is built in this way, we also benefit from increased self-confidence. As journalist Joan Didion wrote in On Self Respect, “Character—the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life—is the source from which self-respect springs.”

Enjoy your weekend everyone!

-Claude Hamilton

11 thoughts on “Building Confidence and Character

  1. I need more tools than your average bear, but every day this thing called character, which I absolutely did NOT have, especially in the area of how I handled mistakes, is building and building in my heart and my actions and I’m thankful for information like this, that takes me closer to the me I long to be.

    You’re awesome, Claude Hamilton.

    Love ya!


  2. Great article Claude. Thanks for posting.

    As a leader, what are 3 things that you have modeled that helped support your team’s growth in confidence and character?

    Wishing you a great week!


  3. Wow! What a powerful post, Claude. I especially liked the quote by Joan Didion, “Character—the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life—is the source from which self-respect springs.”

    This post falls in line with a talk that came through the Life series, by you and Lana, about daily habits and rituals. Having the integrity to change one’s life, even if it is uncomfortable, shows true character.
    The only way to get there is find out where one is at on the character meter and seek to change the deterrents that are preventing growth. Which is where power and mistakes come into play.
    In my experience, with knowledge acquired and applied comes power in one’s own confidence; then a tripping point of pride, veiled or not, which usually results in mistakes.
    This is where a true test of character has come — how will it be handled? Honesty or cover up?
    With LIFE it has started to become honesty, integrity, and character. ONLY because of examples like you and Lana, the Woodwards, Bradys, Guzzardos, and all of the other leaders on and off stage.
    My life has changed so dramatically in the last few years. Looking back, it seems like a lifetime has passed because I have come so far from who I was.

    Thank you for this post. It was spot on!

  4. Another great article Claude. I love that last quote on Character and Self Respect from Joan Didion. Never put the two together before. Gives me food for thought. See you in Ottawa. :-)<3

  5. Thank you very much for this article. I am so thankful you posted it. I have lived in fear of making mistakes for most of my life and it is very difficult to switch to this way of thinking. Just recently I have felt like I am making more mistakes than ever before, and I really want to recoil back into my shell and give up. But thanks to this post I am reminded that I am on the right track, to stop worrying about what others will think of my mistakes but to keep plugging through, keep getting up and be honest when I mess up. I can tell you first hand living with fear of making mistakes is like living in a prison. Breaking free feels raw and uncomfortable but its worth it.

    I will be rereading this article often for the reminder.

    Thank you again

  6. From the very first time I met you, you have been a leading example of character. Debby and I are working at living up to yours and Lana’s example. Thanks for leading the way!

  7. Character and Confidence a building block in the grand scheme of life. Thanks for your words of wisdom, as always they help keep our thoughts moving forward.

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