The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you choose, what you think and what you do is who you become.

 – Heraclitus

et me fill you in on a basic secret of success, the secret of being an exceptional leader and making a meaningful and constructive impact on the world. It’s one that may be simple enough to convey, but easier for some than others to put into practice.

Here it is: You have to be a Good Person to do good and lead people. PERIOD. There can be no exceptions. Just think about those who have consistently exhibited principles, ethics, honesty, trustworthiness, kindness and compassion. They’re the ones that are truly revered and respected, both while serving in their respective positions and, perhaps to an even greater extent, after they’ve retired when people really begin to appreciate them and what they stood for.

Individuals that are less than trustworthy or honest, on the other hand, always seem to alienate the people they’re supposed to be leading or with whom they’re associated. That’s why whenever I take part in evaluation teams for investments or business proposals, one of the things I always want to know is how long the key players have worked together. Because if the answer is years, I am fairly sure there is some ratio between how long they’ve maintained that relationship and their levels of trustworthiness, honesty and just good old-fashioned consistent virtues and values. Those are the types of people with whom I want to be involved, and that I’d prefer to have around me. So, my recommendation to you is to not only be a good person yourself, but to make sure you are with connecting with principled associates. Because the more you hang around them, the better you will be – and the better you’ll be regarded.

Just for a refresher, the Urban Dictionary defines a “good person” as meeting these three criteria:

Enjoys a happy, satisfying, and fulfilling life within their ability.
Promotes happy, satisfying, and fulfilling lives for those that they care about within their ability.

Does not prevent others from living happy, satisfying, and fulfilling lives within their ability, but also within reason.

The idea that good people will have a positive impact on others, and that those they influence will “pay it forward” exponentially is something I’ve always believed in. So this concept of both being a good person and hanging with good people is not a trivial one when it comes to making the world a better place. Because, let’s face it, happy people who lead fulfilling lives, promoting success in the lives of those around them and not preventing others from living happy and fulfilling lives aren’t the sort who are apt to do harm — not to another person, an animal nor the planet. So being a Good Person is a huge and critically important aspect of becoming the Bold and Courageous You that is going to be a force for constructive change in this world.

Now I’d to give you three things to think about in your conscious effort to be a Good Person doing Good Work. These may admittedly seem a little crazy and unorthodox, but believe me, they are critical to you being a consistently Good Person:

Today — yes, TODAY — establish a NO JERK or NO TOXIC PEOPLE policy. By that, I mean do not hang around with or work with such individuals if you can possibly avoid doing so. The slang dictionary defines the word “jerk” as “a contemptibly naive, fatuous, foolish, or inconsequential person.” The word “toxic” is defined as “acting as or having the effect of a poison; poisonous: a toxic drug“ So why would you ever want to hang out with or work with inconsequential foolish jerks or allow yourself to be poisoned by toxic people? Make your pledge to rid yourself of jerks or toxic people now, and start doing it. This may take a while to accomplish, but once you make it your goal and stay with it, you’ll find they will eventually disappear from your personal space (and that, by the way, should include any Facebook “friends” who might be jerks, as well as friends of friends who like to draw strangers into their toxic viewpoints). Think about all those in your sphere of influence, and ask yourself how you can live up to your Good Person potential with them if you are being regularly exposed to the poison such toxic people spew. It’s possible to start your “No Jerk, No Toxic People” policy today, if just by making yourself aware of who in your environment might fit those criteria.

Emulate someone that you respect and admire. Watch how they act or react, even if you’re observing a Netflix portrayal of them like, for example, “Winston Churchill in the Crown.” Take an inventory of their attributes and leadership skills, their mannerisms, what they do that amazes and makes you feel inspired Are they consistent? This technique is especially useful because it teaches you to appreciate the people that are either doing or have done great things. I have used it throughout my career, and have found that no matter what company, organization or team I was on, there was always someone to appreciate and emulate — and I did. I observed and watched how they handled things. It is a great learning experience, which I even engage in while watching movies and TV series about fictional characters.

One I particularly liked was Designated Survivor’s President Kirkman, portrayed by Kiefer Sutherland – a perfect example of a good, honest person placed in juxtaposition with some very conniving and corrupt types that has really resonated with me. (Maybe it’s because the upcoming election has accentuated my awareness of this underbelly of politics, which like every other field of endeavor, has people who should inspire us to emulate them and those who should cause us to do just the opposite.)

Make a list of the things you believe in and would like to be or do on a daily basis. It could include being kind or caring, doing something for someone else or even being good to yourself, lifting someone’s spirits, being bright and cheerful, serving as an inspiration to someone, going out of your way for a stranger, or being honest and open with a loved one.

My list always includes making people feel extraordinary, incredible or awesome — but I’ll share a little secret with you: I have embedded most of the things I would like to do in my bathroom mirror and on a painting in my bathroom wall (below). THERE WILL BE AN ADDED GRAPHIC, RIGHT? Another technique you can use is to set an alarm with your key words so they pop up daily on your calendar, and that you can keep there as long as you like or change whenever it suits you. (Right now, for instance, I am using this method to help me focus on specific causes.) Just program your calendar for whatever time you customarily start your work day with a reminder to, say, “make someone’s day today,” “be a positive and uplifting person,” or “reach out to someone you haven’t spoken with in a while.” You might be surprise at what a difference that start to your day makes.

So in addition to being Bold and Courageous, let’s all strive to be consistently Good People and watch the impact it has on others — and as for the “toxic people” you encounter, simply wish them well and pray that they find hope or positivity (but also watch how they all seem to hang out together. Just keep in mind that there are competing energy fields given off by humans, and that negative energy can effectively rob you of your health and vitality, while positive energy rejuvenates not only your frame of mind, but health as well. One thing I have come to know is that the vibes given off by toxic people can very quickly lower a positive person’s well-being and motivation. This is a key reason for bidding them adieu ASAP and finding positive people to associate with instead. Once you’ve succeeded in doing so, and in reviewing your positive affirmations on a daily basis, you can really just sit back and enjoy the results. I guarantee you will be amazed at how deliberately cultivating your good and awesome attributes and becoming inspired by the collective energy of other incredible people, will not only lead to the spontaneous combustion of the bad influences in your life, but help to make the world you inhabit a more positive and joyful place.

Rock On,