Introduction Character of a person gets formed right from the day a person is born in this world. He or she gets to hear the good or the bad only from the parents and the surrounding social environment in which he or she grows up. This is bound to be good or bad or a mixture of both. Whatever may be the complexities of the environment and situations that determine the social activities of the family and the surrounding social environment, if the particular family remains insulated from every small and essentially negative vibration, the starting "base" of such very good Character Formation gets firmly set in place.
Essentially, every human being's character formation is a direct function of a) What the child gets to see through observing and acting b) What the child gets to learn from other sources c) What the individual learns through social interaction d) What the individual acquires after marriage and e) What the individual imbibes after all experiences. These are the Five Building Blocks of very good Character Formation.
What the child gets to see through observing and acting No child ever in the world can choose his or her parents. As a matter of fact, this is something over which one does not have any control. So, the child born to the richest Indian would automatically get to see a big amount of luxury around him or her. There would be servants running around, taking care of the child, 24×7.
The exact opposite experience would await a child born and brought up in a slum. There could be fights between parents. There could be several anti-social elements in the vicinity of the particular slum in which the child grows up. Life would be very tough. Yet, we do hear so many rags to riches stories. For instance, there has the superb example of Sarat Babu, a highly successful entrepreneur, who runs a huge catering business today, after acquiring the MBA from the most prestigious Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.
This gentleman was born and brought up in a hut in North Chennai. This locality is known for the maximum number of anti-social elements and anti-social activities as well. Yet, his mother believed that one day her son would go places. He did. He had very high marks in his plus two examinations and this helped him enter the very famous PSG College of Technology (ranked no 5 or 6 among the best in South India for engineering education with 100 % placement record for decades), Coimbatore. This college is another export house and most go abroad for further studies. Many like Sarat Babu, land at IIMA or other leading B schools. For Sarat Baabu IIMA seemed a dream.
He got several jobs with MNCs after acquiring his MBA. But, true to his calling, he hit upon a unique idea of advanced technology in catering services. He employs hundreds of people at Dosa King, his company. He has successfully transitioned from a very ordinary position to a very highly successful career. He is on record that his mother did it. She had sold iddli in the particular locality. A few well-wishers helped him finance his engineering education. His mother was flown to Ahmedabad and was requested to speak a few words. She did. In Tamil and her words were translated into English. She merely said that her son's endurance made him what he was then. An engineer and also an MBA from IIMA. The entire audience applauded her little speech. Many cried as they could not hold back their emotions.
Life is full of such stories. Once we stick to a particular path of values, nothing can stop us. Sarat Babu is a folk hero in North Chennai today. His story has been recorded as a case study in many B schools. Character Formation is shaped by what we see in the environment. But moderation is always called for and it is only the family that can provide it. It is only the family that shows the right path. The child gets on to form either good or bad character, largely due to what he or she had observed and acted upon at various stages of childhood and adulthood as well. The action of the child follows after observation.
What the child gets to learn from other sources Since the television and the smartphones that children as young as three years old get to see and experience a day in and day out, of late, a great deal of attention is contested around weaning away children from the negative aspects. This author was surprised to see a father, a Vice-president in a private sector bank, happily explaining something that he was so busy watching on the Discovery channel to his eight-year-old daughter. He was a very high achiever. Yet he and his schoolteacher wife very keen that the child should only be exposed to the very best. This, even when the man is so busy and has to work from home for two hours. He would, but only after ensuring that her child was very comfortable with her daily lessons. The parents would teach the child everything from the Atlas and about democracies. And about different countries. Questions like" Papa, why is our servant aunty so poor?" were patiently explained. It was not attributed to fate or God's wish, which is untrue.
The child would even know what is a one hundred rupee note and a two thousand rupee note. The patience of the parents is very vital. The mother proudly said that every weekend the child was taken to different orphanages and old age homes. They would mobilize old and new clothes from their friends and were often joined by similarly places upper middle class or rich children. The child was able to reel off the names of four old people and what stories she got to hear from them. One can rest assured that the child would have at least imbibed empathy. This is exactly what the parents taught her so well. On festival days, the child was literally in the midst of other not-so-lucky children, with whom she would dance or sing. The parents were keen that the child would never be influenced by class differences. The mother ensured that the child always got to hear only the positive vibrations.
Yes, on a particular occasion, when the child was just six, she had seen a nasty accident. She was shocked. Immediately, the parents put her at ease and explained everything about the accident. The child did not obviously understand all that was said but the parents were careful in not misleading her. She should not hear some nonsense. The parents wanted her to face reality as it can hit any person anytime.
This was related by the mother. Such careful nurturing can help a great deal. Of course, once the children are 14 years old, they automatically tend to hear all sorts of things and the attraction towards the opposite sex happens faster than what the parents think. If the parental intervention and check on all activities are not okay, the child becomes distracted. One often notices that this is the first break in the character of a person.
The school teachers and the parents have a very vital role to play here and it is up to them to take on the challenge of molding the character of the child in the proper direction. When the children become adults at the age of eighteen and enter into college, their attitudes sometimes changes for the worse and the years of hand-holding sometimes goes waste. Once again, a great deal of communication between their children is crucial at this stage. Decisions regarding careers, place of posting, years of higher education needed and whether that is an urgent priority and so on, are always very much dependent on the situation. This will vary from case to case. Nevertheless, if the adult has good character, most of the other things can automatically fall in place.
What the individual learns through social interaction As already discussed above, the adult phase between the age of eighteen to twenty-five is as crucial as the first five years after birth. This is because the adult phase is one of great distraction. The parents, who would be in their early fifties or sometimes late forties have to constantly engage with their children and ensure that they do not deviate. For instance, boozing is a very normal culture in many IT sector employees and even women take to it. This need not be so. The man or woman can conveniently excuse themselves from this needless distraction. It is not that those who booze have poor character. But this is one rather nasty habit that drags one down from the right path, as seen in hundreds of cases.
What the individual acquires after marriage This is very crucial. It is nobody's case that the modern young educated woman has a mind of her own. She needs her own space and the need to express herself. But her own parents need to teach her the value of giving and the value of true love for the husband and his family members. There are husbands who now do most roles that were traditionally reserved for women. They understand the change. And rightly so. There should always be a climate of give and take and both life partners need to understand the imperatives. Ego tantrums can only pull down any person and dilute the person's character. What we need to understand is that marriage is a very sacred institution that needs to be retained and cherished forever. Character building is even more crucial only after marriage.
What the individual imbibes after all experiences This is what we see in any human being after the age of 45. He or she would have gone through so many life experiences. Good or bad. The particular perception of the person on political matters and like or dislike for political parties and their philosophies, right or wrong, gets strongly formed. When taken to the other extreme, such attitudes and perceptions have ruined families. No political participation in any form is advisable for any employed person.
One's life and career and family is more important than anything else. This should be carefully understood so that the character formation that is now complete in the most positive direction and has a big impact on all others, does not fall astray. This is a very important phase of one's life. In the next two decades, because of burnouts in most IT companies or in other companies where the rat race is severe and the pressure to perform is more pronounced than ever before, the character formation before the age of forty would tell upon his or her wider role in the family, society and the formal organization. In many cases, it could mean an entrepreneurial organization, anytime after the age of 45. Signs of this increasingly happening in the urban areas are there for all to see. However, the character formation in the right direction will be very crucial here too.
Conclusion There is nothing old-fashioned about good character. Its importance can never ever diminish at any point in time. This is one fact that should become very clear to all of us. The real world is full of good examples, where good men and women have brought about changes. Yes, we can and should, make a difference. Let character-building start and give shape to far better changes to society, than ever before.