How Six Essential Qualities Determine Your Success in Business
Author: Dr. Henry Cloud


Henry Cloud, author of the best-selling Boundaries, is a clinical psychologist with an extensive background in both the clinical and professional consulting world. He has a consulting practice in California. Cloud explores with convincing insight six aspects of character in dealing with the personal side of leadership. This "must have" book is dense with very principled but practical information.

Character traits supersede gifts, talents, and ability. Those who have them succeed and those who don't ultimately fail. The six traits:
  1. Establishing Trust
  2. Orientation toward Truth
  3. Getting Results
  4. Embracing the Negative
  5. Orientation toward Increase
  6. Orientation toward Transcendence

Key Chapter: Chapter 2. Character, Integrity, and Reality

"When a person travels through a few years with an organization, or with a partnership, or any other kind of working association, he leaves a 'wake' behind in these two areas, task and relationship: What did he accomplish and how did he deal with people?" (17) "We leave a wake of people behind us as we move through their lives and their organizations." (18) (12)

Realities put demands on people that they must meet to perform and not crash. (23) Character is the ability to meet these demands of reality. Leaders will succeed, leaving a positive wake if their character can meet the demand. (24)

"In the end, character always rules." Personal issues make the difference between those who do well and those who don't. "It is always the personal side that creates the problems, the stress, or messes up the goals." This book looks at the personal side. (26)

"You should always pick people with the best character possible…." "Hire and choose to work with the best, but don't ever forget that all of us can always change and be better." (27)

Key Insights

Integrity matters. "Morals and ethics undergird our entire system of business, relationships, government, finance, education, and even our very lives." (7) But beyond this, "Who a person is will ultimately determine if their brains, talents, competencies, energy, effort, deal-making abilities, and opportunities will succeed." "Ethical functioning is a part of character, but not all of it." (8)

It is not always the 'market' or the 'strategy' or the 'resources,' it's the people who make for success. And if you don't have the right kind of people you can lose with a great market strategy and a ton of resources. (30)
Integrity means 'the whole thing is working well…" "It is about wholeness and effectiveness as people." (31) Integrity is about "needing wholeness in all areas of character…" If we do not have integrity of character, "then our ability to capitalize on our strengths will be severely affected." (33)

"The opposite of integration is compartmentalization. That means that a part of oneself can be operating without the benefit of other parts, and that spells trouble." (36) "Strengths turn into weaknesses without the other parts of a person to balance them out." (37)

"Character makes it all work in the end, and character is defined as the ability to meet the demands of reality." (39)

"People feel cared about, and trust is built, when they know that we have a genuine interest in knowing them, knowing about them, and having what we know matter." (56)

You know what not being heard is like. You experience invalidation. It feels like the other person has negated your experience, treating it like it's not real or doesn't matter. (63) To empathize and validate doesn't mean you always agree or think the person is right. It means that you see it as valid, as the reality of their experience. But sometimes you might learn something useful and change your opinion about it. (74) "This stuff matters. Connecting with others in a way that makes them feel understood and valued is key to life and the basis of building trust and loyalty. From that base, everything else works." (73)

The next level of trustworthy character is looking out for the interests of others as well as your own. Some people are scrupulously honest, but if something isn't in the contract they will ignore your interest and look out for their own. Others will be sure you are protected as well. Which would you trust? (76-79)

Trust goes to a whole new level when you believe the other part is for you and against you or indifferent to you. (80) "True trust comes when we realize that another's goodness, and being for my best interest, is not dependent on anything. It is just a part of that person's integrity." (83)

"So, if you want to leave the best wake possible, leave behind a trail of people who have experienced your being 'for them.'" (84) This is my favorite line from the book. DLM

"For someone's character to be able to negotiate reality, there must be this dynamic tension between power and vulnerability." (88) We need leaders who are "strong enough to depend on, but vulnerable enough to identify with." If a leader is weak, people lose faith. But if a leader needs to be seen as more than he is, he cannot be trusted. (92-3) Balance is key. "The tension between vulnerability and strength in leaders cannot be lost." (95)

"Basic truthfulness…is that people of good character are people who can be trusted to tell the truth, and to give a representation of reality to others as best as they understand it. That is the foundation of all of life, from business, to government, to family, to commerce, to friendship." (104-5)

"Reality is always your friend." "We must be in touch with what is, not what we wish things were or think things should be or are led by others to believe they are. The only thing that is going to be real in the end is what is." (106)

"Confront the Brutal Facts. This was the principle that success can only be built through seeing reality clearly and facing it." "You absolutely cannot make a series of good decisions without first confronting the brutal facts." (107) "You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end-which you can never afford to lose-with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be." (107)

"The people who see reality as their friend, however, do not assume that they have a grasp on it." (112) Instead they go seek it out. They look for it and do everything the can to find it. They "hunger" for finding out what is true. They are active, not passive about it. (113) The opposite is avoidance. (114-15)

"The ability to make external reality one's own reality…is pretty huge. It is a good thing for your view of the world to be the real one. If it is not, you lose a lot of functioning." (135) "To give up false security for reality is for the more mature, and strong of heart." (136)

"The difference between winners and losers is not that winners never lose. The difference is that winners lose well, and losers lose poorly. As a result, winners lose less in the future and do not lose the same way that they lost last time…." (160) "Integrated characters deal with loss well. First of all, they do not deny it, no matter how much they might love the idea or the endeavor. They can face up to the reality that it is gone." (161) Integrated characters have the ability to recover quickly after a negative motional event. They recover motivation, hope, judgment, clear thinking, drive, proactivity, etc. (181)

Take ownership for the results. Don't hang on to having been right. "'Being right' can never compete with 'doing well.'" (190)

"One of the most important aspects of character in life, without question, is one's ability to confront. It is true that you get what you tolerate." "Nonconfronters leave a lot of success on the table. Problems overcome them and stop them…." (191) "Confront the problem, but in a way that preserves the relationship and the person." (191-92) Say what needs to be said, and say it in a way that shows that you care about the person. "Go hard on the issue and soft on the person." "Honesty without love is not integrity." (192)

"The invisible world of character is where the visible world always originates." (213)

"One question hovers above all others in importance for a persons' functioning in life. It is the question 'Are you God, or not?' Everyone knows the 'right' answer, but many people function as if they are God. "They experience themselves as the center of the universe." (241)

"If a company values its own interests above all else, then the other things take a backseat." "The paradox always holds true. Give up things for yourself, and you get more. Seek only yourself, and you will lose even what you have." (245) "Character always wins." (249)

"Self-denial is always about loss. It is the willingness to lose something that truly matters to us for the service of something bigger. This aspect of character is the basis of all that makes the world go round, and when it breaks down, so goes the world." "You win in the end by losing in the beginning, if you lose to the more important things." (257)

Collins, 2006, 282 pp., ISBN 0-06-084968-1

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Book Notes by David Mays
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