Adam Grant’s Personality and Character

In the complex tapestry of human nature, the concepts of personality and character play crucial roles in defining who we are. Renowned organizational psychologist Adam Grant, who I managed to listen to a few weeks ago in person (another post coming up on this), succinctly captures this duality with his thought-provoking quote, “If personality is how you respond on a typical day, character is how you show up on a hard day.” (yes, this is from his pre-release new book). This quote serves as a profound reminder that our true essence shines through during times of adversity, showcasing the importance of character in our lives.

Personality vs. Character

Before delving into the profound meaning behind Grant’s quote, it’s essential to distinguish between personality and character. Personality encompasses the traits, behaviors, and habits that define our everyday interactions. It’s the collection of attributes that dictate how we engage with the world in routine circumstances. Personality traits can range from extroversion to conscientiousness, influencing our daily choices and interactions.

On the other hand, character goes beyond surface-level traits; it represents the moral and ethical compass that guides our actions during challenging moments. Character is revealed when life presents obstacles, adversity, or difficult decisions. It’s a reflection of our values, principles, and integrity when the going gets tough.

Character Shines in Adversity

Grant’s quote underscores the idea that true character is most apparent when we face adversity. During the trials and tribulations of life, our core values and principles come to the forefront. It’s easy to be pleasant, kind, and patient on an ordinary day when everything is going smoothly. However, the true test of one’s character occurs when we encounter hardship, setbacks, or moral dilemmas.

In challenging times, individuals with strong character display resilience, courage, and integrity. They stand firm in their beliefs and values, even when it may be more convenient to compromise. Their actions align with their moral compass, serving as a beacon of inspiration to others. Such individuals are unwavering in their commitment to doing what is right, regardless of the personal cost.

The Power of Character Development

Developing character is a lifelong journey that involves self-reflection, self-discipline, and a commitment to personal growth. It requires the cultivation of virtues such as honesty, empathy, integrity, and compassion. While personality traits may remain relatively stable throughout life, character can be intentionally nurtured and strengthened over time.

One way to develop character is through facing and overcoming adversity. Each challenge we encounter provides an opportunity to strengthen our character. By responding with resilience and integrity, we reinforce our commitment to our values and deepen our understanding of who we are at our core.


Adam Grant’s insightful quote serves as a reminder that while personality influences our everyday interactions, it is character that defines us during the most trying moments in life. Character is the inner strength that guides us when the path is rocky and uncertain. It is a testament to our values, principles, and integrity, shining brightest when we face adversity. As we navigate the complexities of life, let us remember that the true measure of our character lies in how we show up on hard days, for it is in those moments that our authentic selves are revealed.

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