According to Aristotle, the ultimate aim of human endeavor is the development of character. This great philosopher believed that the most important goal one can hope to accomplish is to become an excellent person, to develop the kind of personality and character that earns you the respect, esteem and affection of the important people in your life.

But how does one go about becoming excellent? According to Aristotle, there was a simple method: If you wished to obtain a virtue, you would practice embodying that virtue whenever it was required. For example, if you wish to develop courage, act courageously, even when you feel afraid.

Whatever happens, maintain clear vision. The truth is it is not easy to rise to a position of leadership in any organization or society. The competition for leadership position is fierce. Only those best equipped for leadership will rise to the top in any given area. For this reason, you must maintain a clear vision. In many ways, leadership is “situational.” The requirements for leadership are subject to various factors, including the character of the people to be led, the objectives to be accomplished by the group, the competition for resources, etc. Changing any of these factors will change the qualities of leadership necessary for success.

The true test of a leader. Educator and author Peter Drucker said the only event that is inevitable in the life of a leader is the “unexpected crisis.” Only when you encounter a setback, an obstacle, a difficulty or the inevitable crisis, will you demonstrate the kind of person you really are. It is not what you say, wish, hope or intend that reveals your character but your actions, especially in the face of adversity, setback or loss.

Once you have developed a clear vision for your ideal future and have resolved to develop unshakable courage by doing the things you fear, you must develop the habit of accepting complete responsibility for yourself and every aspect of your life.

Among the most important leadership qualities are the habits of integrity and honesty. You develop integrity and become a completely honest person by practicing telling the truth to yourself and others in every situation you face. As Shakespeare said, “To thine own self be true.” Continually clarify what it is that you stand for and what you do not stand for. Make the decision to build your life around certain values and then refuse to compromise those values for anything. Then, you will be an excellent person.

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Brian Tracy is the CEO of Brian Tracy International, which specializes in business training, and the author of the best-selling Psychology of Achievement. For more information, go to www.briantracy.com.