The Competent Character

Q: Can a person be lacking in character and strong in competence?

A: In certain respects, yes; but ultimately, no. Ultimately, low character will drive out and undermine competence. Imagine you have a car mechanic, or some other service professional, whose work you like. Yet you discover he charges fees when he said he wouldn’t, and you catch him in a few lies. You hear complaints from other customers as well. What happens to your opinion of him? The same thing happens to him, internally. The concentration, focus and motivation that makes some of his work competent will inevitably be stressed by the ongoing consequences of complaints by customers, as well as the stress of remembering which lies he told–to whom–and when he has spoken the truth. It’s an accomplishment to be competent, but it also takes work to be a liar, or otherwise lacking in character. The two are constantly colliding within the conflicted individual.