Character still counts.
In recent times we've come to view character as almost code reserved for niche political zealots. We doubt the word and its purveyors.
But in spite of attempts to hijack or dismiss same character steadies on.
We've forgotten what character is and implies and in so doing let it become an empty advertising slogan devoid of meaning. Out of context with most of modern life we dismiss it when we hear it because we have no baseline to compare it to.
Or do we?
For roughly the last 100 years we have celebrated the age of sales. In western society we saw the emergence of a new role: the salesperson.
As the power of this function increased and with it the attendant roles of marketing and advertising we became inured to hearing over and over again how great a product or service is and more importantly how much we needed it.
Whether we knew it or not.
In the emerging industrialized world firms bellowed louder and louder (followed shortly thereafter by people) to tell us how good they were, and over time we began to confuse pronouncement and self-promotion and noise with character.
But they're different: people with strong character don't feel the need to tell us.
Before the advent of industrialization people had trades and tended to stay close to home. Most toiled within a few miles of their birthplace which one day became their death place.
Life was compact.
Before the age of resumes and grad schools and LinkedIn and reference checks people knew their neighbors and if a stranger did show up looking for work it was often difficult to find without a personal vouchment from someone known by the community.
And what did they vouchsafe?
Character of course.
One developed character at an early age or one did not eat regularly.
In the new age everything shifted. We have very few long-term relationships and fewer still are the families that stay together much less with extensions of cousins, uncles and aunts in close proximity to each other.
We don't know each other very well any more.
But something odd has happened recently: what's old is new again.
With the factorial increase in social media as well as an entire digital generation we have rediscovered character. For what is character but predictability?
Character is the tendency to do certain things under pressure, to have a constant stance under stress. Some of us have weak character easily swayed by situational ethics while others of us persevere and maintain a sense of true north despite temporal conditions.
What's different today is that the social media community not only can sniff out the posers and pretenders – those who simply boast – from those who actually do things like return phone calls, answer emails and in general deliver the work but in a nod to the community-based approach of the Agragarian age share that information as well.
What we know about people. And their character.
So we have come full circle. Character still counts.
The good news is we can now see it and share it more broadly, within our community.
Like we did over 100 years ago.