Martin Luther King delivering his "I have a dream speech"

The power of good character

Good character has a lot of power because they capture people’s respect in a way that compels them to do more for your cause.

People respect you when you have some form of social leverage. There’s two forms of social leverage: fear and good character.


When someone is scared of you for any reason, they respect you out of fear. You could be an employer that has control over someone’s employment, or a father who has control over someone’s peace at home. This kind of respect compels people to do just enough to get out of trouble, but nothing more. Fear is worthless because it hides the best in people and can sometimes cause them to quit.

Good Character

However, when someone looks up to you for any reason, they respect you for your good character. They don’t want you to be disappointed in them because that’s a reflection on them as a person. They also depend on you because in tough times, you’re a rock to lean on. You could be an employer who brings out the best in others, or a father whose kids are proud to be his kids, or a social activist that draws others towards a better future.

This kind of respect compels people to go above and beyond for you whether you’re looking or not. They might make one more sales call, might knock on one more door, or might help one more person. Good character has unforeseen power because it brings out more goodness in others!

Good Character depends on You

The beautiful thing about all this is that good character depends on you. Fear requires you repeatedly interact negatively with others, but good character requires you repeatedly interact positively with yourself.

By practicing to be calm, precise, positive and realistic in all circumstances, you learn to control your disposition. In a panic situation, when everyone is falling apart, you’re the only one holding together. As a result, others will depend on that, will follow you and will go the extra mile for you.

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