People of Character Make a Difference!
People who make a difference are pioneers. They are individuals who venture into unexplored territory. They guide us to new and often unfamiliar destinations. They are foot soldiers in the campaign for change. They move us forward in a positive direction.
These people of influence do so, not so much by their achievements, but more importantly, by their character! John Luther said, "Good character is more to be praised than outstanding talent. Most talents are, to some extent, a gift. Good character, by contrast, is not given to us. We have to build it piece by piece -- by thought, choice, courage, and determination."
Character is that which sustains a person's ability to influence. And, that is something you cannot buy, touch or inherit. It is built daily and is a foundation of a person's life.
Historians know well that in ancient times, brick makers, engravers, and other artisans used a symbol to mark things, which they created. It was known as their "character." The value of the work was in proportion to the skill with which the object was made. And only if the quality of the work was high was the character esteemed. In other words, the quality of the person and his work gave value to his credentials. If the work was good, so was the character. If the work was bad, then the character was viewed as poor.
Character comes from within -- it is who we are. It does not come from our titles or positions. Credentials can never accomplish what character can do!
Character will limit or enhance a person's potential to influence and impact others. John Morley said, "No man can climb out beyond the limitations of his own character."
Character also extends a person's ability to influence and impact others. J.R. Miller stated, "The only thing that walks back from the tomb and refuses to be buried, is the character of a man. What a man is survives him. It can never be buried."
Character is the foundation for a person's reputation. Without question, a good reputation exists because it is a reflection of a person's character.
William Hersey Davis provides great insights as to the difference between character and reputation. He wrote:
"The circumstances amid which you live determine your reputation . . . The truth you believe determines your character . . . Reputation is what you are supposed to be; Character is what you are . . . Reputation is the photograph; Character is the face . . . Reputation comes over one from without; Character grows up from within . . . Reputation is what you have when you come to a new community; Character is what you have when you go away . . . Your reputation is made in a moment; Your character is built in a lifetime . . . Your reputation is learned in an hour; Your character does not come to light for a year . . . Reputation grows like a mushroom; Character lasts like eternity . . . Reputation makes you rich or makes you poor; Character makes you happy or makes you miserable . . . Reputation is what men say about you on your tombstone; Character is what the angels say about you before the throne of God."
Without a doubt, it is character, and not achievements, that affects your decisions, words, attitudes, goals, relationships, and actions. Martin Luther King, Jr., said it well, "The time is always right to do what is right."
Like the natural laws of gravity and thermodynamics, there are principles of life that affect our decisions and relationships. Character is the summation of those principles into positive personal attributes, which are obtainable and can be developed.
Technology advances, information expands, and the world changes but the building blocks for producing effective individuals, families, communities, and an ethical marketplace -- "character qualities" -- do not change.
Now more than ever, our world, our nation, our region, needs people who make a difference . . . who venture into unexplored territories . . . who will guide us to new and unfamiliar destinations . . . good foot soldiers for change . . . moving us forward in a positive direction. People who influence and impact others with right character, and not just achievements, not only mending fences, but also building bridges and carrying the banners of integrity, honesty and proper ethics in the marketplace.
Eleanor H. Porter said, "The influence of a beautiful, helpful, hopeful character is contagious, and may revolutionize a whole town."