It doesn’t happen as often as we would assume, but in our lifetimes, our character will be questioned. Someone will doubt us and what we stand for. Of course, it will most likely infuriate us and lead us to question ourselves to the core. It will provoke anger to come out of places we didn’t even know we had, and make us feel sick to our stomachs over the fact that others have perceived us in a certain light--perhaps a light that we completely disagree with. But there it is. “Others perceive us.” At the end of the day, is our decision to even take into consideration what others say of us.
People often say that our work isn’t who we are; it’s merely what we do. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary goes on to define Character as such: noun char·ac·ter \ˈker-ik-tər, The complex of mental and ethical traits that make up and distinguish an individual.
That being said, if work is just something we do, then what defines us? According to the dictionary, we can agree that our character is that thing. It is the one thing, similar to our dignity and our pride, that we feel as though we must protect and yet expose at the same time.
Our character is also the first cousin of our life’s purpose. We know what we love to do, and we do it with respect, gratitude, and with a confident mindset. Our character encompasses that. It is the silent reflection of our own distinct qualities that have been built into our lives. The great thing about our character is that, try as they may, no one can take away another person’s character. They can try to tarnish it, but it is not theirs to destroy. However, they can willingly watch their own character decompose by the seams.
Our character is what determines how we respond and react to situations and circumstances. It is comprised of far more than what is on display for others to see. Our character exists in the moments when no one is watching. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “Reputation is the shadow. Character is the tree.”