Let's Get to Work! lesson 4 is about the difference between character and personality. the understanding that change happens when we take time to develop habits of kindness, empathy, and love in our life. 

Lesson 4: The Practice (AKA the 8 Essentials)


  • Students will know the difference between personality and character.
  • Students will understand that they have the capacity to grow and improve their character.
  • Students will understand how to build meaningful, powerful habits in their life that exercise Love and help them serve their school.


Big Notecards or 8.5x11 Paper, Pens, Markers (optional)

Opening Activity: Your Ideal Shoe

  1. Pass out notecards and pens/markers so everyone has one. Have everyone find a partner - tell them the only requirement is that their shoe brand or color must be different from their partners.
  2. Give everyone 4 minutes to draw or describe their “ideal shoe.” Make sure they understand that this shoe can be anything they want - it can be made of any material, can have any features. If cost (or reality) wasn’t an issue, what would be your ideal shoe?
  3. Have everyone share with their partner their drawing and/or description.
  4. Next, have everyone write down, on the same side as their shoe, as many places they can think of that they could walk in those shoes. Give them 2 minutes.

Direct Instruction:

  • Say: Today, we are going to be talk about the difference between personality and character. It is important to know that people misuse these two words all the time. For example, people will say (after rudely talking to someone), “That’s just my personality,” when in reality they should say, “That’s my character”.
  • Access student’s schema by asking: what is your personal definition of character and personality?
  • Say: Our personality is a lot like our ideal shoe. Some of us are colorful, loud, extroverted. Some of us are practical, thoughtful, specific. Some of us prefer comfort while some of us prefer style. Some of us prefer talking, while some prefer listening. Some prefer taking charge, while others prefer working behind the scenes. These are different aspects of our personalities - they are our inclinations towards the world and how we interact with the world. We do not have control over our personality types. Research shows that they are more or less set by the age of 6.
  • Ask: How do you think your ideal shoe might represent your personality. Share with your partner.
  • Ask: If your personality is a lot like your ideal shoe - your personal preference - then what is character? 
  • Show or Read: Character vs. Personality. 
    • Personality is: the kind of shoes we wear.
    • Character is: where we choose to run.
    • Personality is: what we wear to the gym.
    • Character is: how hard we work out.
    • Personality is: a gift, set by the age of 6.
    • Character is: a habit, shaped by daily choices.
  • Say: Character is who we are. We are responsible for our character. We either build or destroy our character everyday by the thousands of choices that we make.

Activity: People of Character

  1. Have them go back to back with their partners and close their eyes. Instruct them to think about someone in their life that they admire. Someone who they think of as a person of Character. What are 2-3 qualities they really admire about that person? Why did you choose those words or qualities?
  2. Have them turn and share with their partner. 
  3. Ask: So what does Character look like? What are the choices we can make that help develop, shape, or build our Character? (create a list of these on the board).
  4. Say: There are a lot of different ways to think about Character, but for the purpose of this class, we will use what James Hunter calls the “8 Essentials of Servant Leaders.” These are 8 elements of our Character. They are:
    • Kindness
    • Honesty
    • Patience
    • Respect
    • Humility
    • Selflessness
    • Forgiveness
    • Commitment
  5. Have them write these down on the blank side of their notecard or their paper, leaving a little space after each word.
  6. Say: The great thing about these words or qualities is, unlike our Personality, these words are skills. Our kindness or patience is not set by the age of 6. These 8 words - our Character - are things that each of us can practice every day. In fact, think about the people of Character in your life and think about the words you chose for them. Do you think they were born that way? No! You aren’t born with amazing courage or kindness or patience or forgiveness. You create those skills in your life through consistent, intentional choices.
  7. Have them work with their partner to come up with 1 challenge after each of the 8 Essentials - ways that they could specifically choose to practice that quality. Some examples might be:
    • Respect: I will learn the names of our cooks and thank them for their hard work.
    • Forgiveness: I will show up to my least favorite class and intentionally look for 3 positive things that the teacher does well and/or what I like about the subject matter for the day.
    • Kindness: I will show up as early as I can at the start of lunch and hold the door open for people coming in and smile, shake hands, and tell people to have a great day!
  8. Have people share out their top 1 or 2 challenge ideas.
  9. Say: Alright! This is your workout plan for the next 8 days. The more we take time to intentionally practice, the more we grow in these skills. In fact, our Character can become a habit in our life.
  10. Show: 4 Stages of Habit Development Image or Handout.
  11. Say: Let’s take a look at the 4 Stages of Habit Development. All habits happen the same way. First, we start with Stage 1: Unconscious & Unskilled. I don’t know about a thing so I’m obviously not good at that thing. Then, when we are exposed to how to do that thing, we move to Stage 2: Conscious & Unskilled. I know about this thing, but have not practiced it so I’m not good at the thing. But now that I know how to do it, I can start working at it. I can start practicing - and with enough practice, I get to Stage 3: Conscious & Skilled. I not only know how to do the thing, but now have practiced the thing often enough that I’m good at it! And then, with lots of practice (some people say it is 10,000 hours of consistent, intentional practice or rehearsal to be called an expert), I arrive at Stage 4: Unconscious & Skilled. I have practiced the thing so much that I don’t even have to think about it anymore. It’s muscle memory. It’s just who I am – A HABIT in my life. 
  12. Say: What if our job as leaders wasn’t just about assemblies or activities? What if we worked to become unconsciously skilled at kindness? Honesty? Forgiveness? What if we made it our job, every day, to practice building habits of Character in our life?


  • How do the 8 Essentials relate to our conversation yesterday about LOVE? (To us, Character is LOVE in action!)
  • In what way do the 8 Essentials require you to SERVE? What SACRIFICES do you have to make to demonstrate or practice them?
  • Why is it that not everyone practices the 8 Essentials in their life? What makes them hard?
  • Why do you respect or admire the people of Character in your life? What is preventing you from practicing to become more like them?