When creating a life of significance, several honorable traits rise to the surface, defining our true character. Character involves reining in our desires and impulses in accordance to an outside law. That, in turn, involves the following five basic traits which constitute a fundamental concept of significance.
Humility does not mean you are quiet, soft-spoken, unassuming or less fortunate. Genuine humility entails being teachable and submissive by surrendering to the authority of another and/or yielding oneself to the will of a higher power. When training Secretariat, the greatest racehorse of all time, his handlers didn’t break his spirit. They make him submissive so his talent could be bridled and guided in order for him to reach his full potential. When we’re humble, we care deeply about others and their welfare, and become unselfishly devoted to something larger than ourselves.
Integrity is doing the right thing when people are watching, but more importantly, doing the right thing when they aren’t. Albert Einstein is attributed to saying, “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.” No matter your income, your background, your level of leadership in society and business, and no matter your education, living with integrity should be a top priority if you want to live a life of significance.
During the Vietnam War, a group of American pilots were shot down and captured. These men, that included Brigadier General Robinson Risner, Captain Gerry Coffee and Senator John McCain, spent years in solitary confinement at the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” prisoner of war camp. Whenever they were dragged from their cell for interrogation, the rallying cry “RWH” rang out. Return with honor. These men were beaten, tortured and starved, and the pressure to sell-out was continuous and unrelenting. My dear friend Coffee told me, “I survived and lived to tell about it because I had self-discipline that strengthened me to obey my conscience, obey my instincts and obey my commitment to defend and represent my country.”
Self-discipline leads to the concept of sacrifice, which means to relinquish something valuable or precious, often to accomplish a greater purpose. The spirit of sacrifice humbles us to obey and promotes gratitude. I fear the principle of sacrifice is slipping away from us. If life becomes too easy, we take for granted what matters most. We must acknowledge that the value of something is determined by what we are willing to surrender to obtain it. When our deepest beliefs diverge from our actions, we will never feel truly happy or live in the highest realms of significance.
When we practice humility, integrity, self-discipline and self-sacrifice, we generate order in our lives—the fifth face of character. A pattern of order exists in the universe. Based on what is right, it gives us constant access to the universe’s governing powers. Those who follow a pattern of order will simplify every process, increase productivity and attain results quicker. Patterns help generate conventional success, and by utilizing the five faces of character we manifest our capacity to live significant lives.