What Is Character?
What Did Abraham Lincoln Say About Character?
Abraham Lincoln said, “Reputation is the shadow. Character is the tree.” Our character is much more than just what we try to display for others to see, it is who we are even when no one is watching. Good character is doing the right thing because it is right to do what is right.
The Dictionary Definitions of “Character”
One dictionary defines character as “the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.” Another says it is “the complex of mental and ethical traits marking a person.” In still another dictionary, character is said to be “the stable and distinctive qualities built into an individual’s life which determine his or her response regardless of circumstances.”
How Does Character Determine Success In Life?
Our Character Is What Determines How We Respond to the Situations and Circumstances of Life
The dictionary definitions said character is a “complex of mental and ethical traits“, that those traits, or qualities, are “distinctive to an individual” and that they are “built into an individual’s life.” It is those character qualities, those character traits, that determine a person’s response in any given situation. For example, a person in with a strong character quality of truthfulness is much more likely to accurately report the facts in a given situation than a person who tends to be characterized by deceptiveness. Someone who has the character trait of alertness will be more likely to be a better, safer, driver than a person who does not see or recognize the potential dangers around him (carelessness). A person with the character quality of tolerance will be more accepting of others – less prejudiced.
Success or failure in any situation or endeavor depends, more than anything else, on how we respond to events and circumstances. It follows that it is our character that determines our success. Of course, that doesn’t mean that “good” people will always experience more “success” than “bad” people. There are, however, some character traits that tend to lead to “success” and others that tend to produce “failure.” The question is, “What are the “good” character qualities, and what are “bad” qualities?