March 24

Today's quotation:

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

Today's Meditation:

I can't help but think back to high school when I read this quotation, back to the days when almost everyone--especially the "popular" kids--were so worried about what other people thought about them that they never gave a thought to what they were doing to other people in the name of having a reputation.  Most of them were lost after high school, when they went on to college or into the job world, when they found that their "rep" didn't follow them into the real world.

It's very easy to get caught up in trying to have other people admire us and think good things about us.  It's also very easy to try to make them think good of us by doing things that we really shouldn't do, like making jokes about other people, insulting someone behind his or her back, or telling some secret that we really shouldn't be telling just to make someone think better of us.

Truly showing our character takes some strong decision making.  First we have to decide that there are certain things that we won't do--like gossip or steal or treat others badly.  Then, whenever we face a situation in which we find ourselves tempted to do one of those things, we have to make another decision to stick to our decision.  As time goes on, these decisions get easier and easier to make as our character strengthens and we start to realize that it's much more important to be known as someone that others can trust in the long run than it is to be known as someone who will give others what they want in the short run.

Eventually, your reputation will be that you are a person of deep conviction and strong character, and when people realize that and start treating you that way, you will feel very, very good about yourself.  Always.

Questions to consider:

In your mind, what are the greatest differences between character and reputation?

Why is it easier to develop a reputation than it is to develop character?

How do you feel about people who are mainly concerned about their reputations?  How deep is your trust for them?

For further thought:

The poor Mullah Nasreddin was reduced to living on a diet of chickpeas and bread, while his neighbor dined on fancy delicacies provided by the King himself.

One day his neighbor said to Nasreddin:  "If you were truly wise you would learn to flatter the King and obey his every whim like I do.  Then you would not have to live on chickpeas and bread."  Nasreddin answered, "And if you would learn to live on chickpeas and bread like I do, then you would not have to flatter the King and obey his every whim."

Traditional Sufi Story


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