Leadership Wired Blog

Are You Driven by Character or Emotion?


“The greatest gap in life is the one between knowing and doing.”
- Dick Biggs

Life would certainly be easier – and success more simple – if all it took to achieve was to KNOW the right things and DECIDE to do them, right? But I think it’s more accurate to say that a decision is just one bookend of achievement. The other is discipline. Decisions can only help us start. Discipline helps us finish. That’s where character comes in. Emotion might drive us to make a decision. But character is what keeps us going, even when it gets hard. In Developing the Leader Within You, I wrote about some differences between character-driven and emotion-driven people:

Character-driven people…

  1. Do right, then feel good.
  2. Are commitment driven.
  3. Make principle-based decisions.
  4. Let action control attitude.
  5. Believe it, then see it.
  6. Create momentum.
  7. Ask, “What are my responsibilities?
  8. Continue when problems arise.
  9. Are steady.
  10. Are leaders.

Emotion-driven people…

  1. Feel good, then do right.
  2. Are convenience-driven.
  3. Make popular decisions.
  4. Let attitude control action.
  5. See it, then believe it.
  6. Wait for momentum.
  7. Ask, “What are my rights?”
  8. Quit when problems arise.
  9. Are moody.
  10. Are followers.

The late Louis L’Amour is one of the best-selling authors of all time, with over 300 million copies of his popular western novels and short-story collections sold. When asked the key to his prolific writing, he responded, “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” Allow character and discipline to drive you, and you’ll bridge the gap between knowing and doing. This will take you farther on the journey of success.


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