Saturday, November 24, 2007

Curious about Character: What Is It? How Do You Define It for Yourself?

Definition: Strength of mind; resolution; independence; individuality; as, he has a great deal of character. Moral quality; the principles and motives that control the life; as, a man of character; his character saves him from suspicion. The estimate, individual or general, put upon a person or thing; reputation; as, a man's character for truth and veracity; to give one a bad character.

I care not what others think of what I do, but I care very much about what I think of what I do! That is character!” - Theodore Roosevelt, American President

Character is doing the right thing when nobody's looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that's right is to get by, and the only thing that's wrong is to get caught.” - J. C. Watts, American politician

How important is someone’s character to you? I know that of all of the descriptive terms used about me – both to my face and/or behind my back – my dream is to have others describe me as a “person of character.” I definitely agree with both of the above definitions, and yet I do care “what others think of what I do.”

When searching for quotations, I found that “reputation” was also mentioned often.

Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” - John Wooden, American coach

Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” - Abraham Lincoln, American President

As I was growing up and out, my father – who was my incredible and influential mentor – stressed the importance of the record (or reputation) that we built up and carried with us. It consisted of the grades we achieved in school, the people we hung around with, the work we did for others, the jobs we held, how we treated others, and, of course, our character in all matters.

Here are a few more of the dozens and dozens of “character” quotations I found from the experts:

  • A man has no more character than he can command in a time of crisis.” - Ralph W. Sockman, American leader
  • Character is power.” - Booker T. Washington, American educator
  • People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson, American poet
  • I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” - Martin Luther King, Jr., American leader
  • A man's character may be learned from the adjectives which he habitually uses in conversation.” - Mark Twain, American author
  • Character, in great and little things, means carrying through what you feel able to do.” - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German poet

And a few more for you to consider and chew upon:

  • Character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion.” – Aristotle, Greek philosopher
  • When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.” - Billy Graham, American clergyman
  • In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.” - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, American poet
  • I think character is permanent, and issues are transient.” - James Stockdale, American soldier

I do feel that if we are not considered to be “people of character” it may take some work and effort to change that perception, but it is possible to work on our character habits and our thinking. We can change ourselves!