The Six Pillars of Character®

Six Pillars

The CHARACTER COUNTS! approach to character education doesn't exclude anyone. That's why we base our programs and materials on six ethical values that everyone can agree on — values that are not political, religious, or culturally biased. Use the points below to help young people understand the Six Pillars, and use the mnemonic devices at right to help them remember.

We've posted a variety of lesson plans and other resources that help young people understand and practice the Six Pillars.

Just register here to download these resources.
Read more: Our book Making Ethical Decisions, reprinted in part here, includes a more detailed discussion of the Six Pillars. In his blog What Will Matter, Josephson Institute president Michael Josephson invokes the Six Pillars to answer the question, What Is Character?


Be honest • Don’t deceive, cheat, or steal • Be reliable — do what you say you’ll do • Have the courage to do the right thing • Build a good reputation • Be loyal — stand by your family, friends, and country


Treat others with respect; follow the Golden Rule • Be tolerant and accepting of differences • Use good manners, not bad language • Be considerate of the feelings of others • Don’t threaten, hit or hurt anyone • Deal peacefully with anger, insults, and disagreements


Do what you are supposed to do • Plan ahead • Persevere: keep on trying! • Always do your best • Use self-control • Be self-disciplined • Think before you act — consider the consequences • Be accountable for your words, actions, and attitudes • Set a good example for others


Play by the rules • Take turns and share • Be open-minded; listen to others • Don’t take advantage of others • Don’t blame others carelessly • Treat all people fairly


Be kind • Be compassionate and show you care • Express gratitude • Forgive others • Help people in need


Do your share to make your school and community better • Cooperate • Get involved in community affairs • Stay informed; vote • Be a good neighbor • Obey laws and rules • Respect authority • Protect the environment • Volunteer

Suggested character education materials

All CHARACTER COUNTS! support materials use the Six Pillars common language. To help promote these shared values in your school, workplace or community, consider displaying Six-Pillar posters and banners and distributing Making Ethical Decisions booklets along with various awareness products.

Six Pillar PostersMaking Ethical Decisions BookletAwareness Products