Intrinsic Value III

Reputation is what the world thinks a man is; character is what he really is. Anyone can play shuttlecock with a man’s reputation; his character is his alone. No one can injure his character but he himself. Character is the sword; reputation is the scabbard. Many men acquire insomnia in standing guard over their reputation, while their character gives them no concern. Often they make new dents in their character in their attempt to cut a deep, deceptive filigree on the scabbard of their reputation. Reputation is the shell a man discards when he leaves life for immortality. His character he takes with him.” ~ William George Jordan

The opinions of others are valuable in that they provide a perspective on your function that you might not have, being in your own shoes, so to speak. That said, only a fool would base his actions on a reaction to the opinions of others. Every thought, every word and every deed can and should be centered in truth.

When you align yourself with truth in all things and deliberately dissociate yourself from that which is inconsistent with truth, you develop integrity. Integrity, in turn, is the medium in which virtues are cultivated. And a virtuous man is a man of great character.

It is said that misery loves company, but less mentioned is the fact that misery hates joy. Those who possess great character are at peace with themselves, no matter how violent the reaction to their presence. When you are virtuous, when you do the work required to build character (none are born with it…it must be developed), you find that you are of good cheer, no matter how restrictive, how intense, how hopeless the situations you face might appear to be.

You overcome the shortcomings of human nature – one by one – as you develop character and you must always remember that all the power, all the resources, all the wisdom you need to prevail is at hand, within you. Remember, too, that obsessing about your reputation will never transmute the colander of your character into a container capable of withstanding any pressure that comes its way, but paying careful attention to your alignment with the truth will.

10 thoughts on “Intrinsic Value III

  1. strawberryfields

    Never thought of it but misery does hate joy. Everyone has a few joy killers in their life, the only way to inoculate yourself is to develop a character that is fortified by your own experience with the truth. Thanks for the post. I enjoy William Jordan’s take on things…timeless!


  2. Colin

    Another reason that you should not worry about the opinions of others (too much), especially if you are interested in truly leading a life of integrity. When you do this, the people with the filigreed scabbards and the rusted, pitted, and dented swords can feel a bit threatened. So you just have to realize this and not be surprised when it happens. And the great thing is, the more you are really living a life of integrity, the more you naturally will not worry about it and second guess yourself. Be wary of those who viciously defend their “territory”. They usually are missing that inner sense of value that comes from having a beautiful sword inside the beautiful scabbard.


  3. Joshua

    Thnaks for the potent reminder this morning!
    Greatly appreciated.
    Basing our actions on what others might think would be an endless swallower of time and substance!


  4. It was helpful to see your reference to the fact that Character is developed. I have often felt this and therefore have embarked on the very deliberate development of my own character. Along the way there were certain traits that I had to let go of, not the least of which was my desire for approval and respect from everybody. Over the years I of course have learned the fallacy of such a desire and instead have concentrated on the development of my own genuine Character. The result has been genuine respect from those who deliberately are developing their own character, which to me are those whose respect really means something anyway.

    It seems to me that one of the characteristics of genuine Character is the encouragement for others to discover the True Character that is present within them. The reputation that one has for oneself is far more valuable than the so-called reputation that others, especially those with shaky character, has for them. Deliberately developing ones character to realize the absolute best that is contained within them is a lifetime project and process, and is what leads one to the living a life of genuine value.


  5. David R

    Character is the evidence of consistent alignment of expression with truth. A person may be known for that, and that may contribute helpfully to reputation, but typically those whose character has been sterling have had to endure terrible indignities and slurs on their reputations.

    Weak and dishonet people love to impugn those they perceive to be great in some way. “Cut them down to size!” “Lop off tall poppies.” Those who have accomplished great things have virtually always done so despite the private and pubic derision of others. The truth does have a way of enduring, however – it has a reputation for that! And as we are aligned with the truth, we are aligned with lasting worth and genuine value. Ultimately, honor and worth are qualities of truth, not matters of surface appearance.


  6. Coco

    Reputation is the sum of gossip primarily fueled by half truths (better known as lies) jealousies or prejudice. When we try to judge the worthiness of another person we stray into territory that alone belongs to the our creator. Any conclusions drawn solely by a persons reputation is a sign of weakness in our own character. This is one of the most important lessons our young people should learn. When I see a young person destroyed because of what someone else said or wrote about them my concern is to help them develop the character to travel the high road and not succumb to the temptation of retaliation. If they grow from it, it can be a watershed experience for them. Good subject, thanks.


  7. MMc

    Character is the results of our own efforts. This is one of the things that it seems we have total control over. I know there is the nature vs nuture ideas and I’m sure there can be aspects of of our nature we have to endeavor to overcome, but it is still our efforts or not that develop our priceless character. William George’s depiction of reputation as the scabbard gives a crystal clear picture of the value of reputation. A central issue with reputation is if we assassinate anothers reputation it is a sign that of our own character is unprincipled.


  8. Ricardo B.

    This is a very freeing thought here, that all the resources necessary to develop further are within. It’s funny how from where I stand now and to the dreams to which I aspire stand at a distance, I scratch my head and wonder how on earth am I going to get there! The idea is on the basis of integrity, if something of a big dream is going to happen, it’s got to happen on the right basis and this is simply built on a day to day level, handling all your affairs with awareness and integrity. Paying your dues so to speak, and then if the dream does become reality, you will have earned it and I believe the things you earn are the things that truly can stand the test of time and carry lasting value beyond yourself. There is the you but expressed on a much larger scale, for you have become your dreams.
    What an uplifting concept to know that all is possible as you duly apply yourself to strengthen character and live to fulfill this conviction!


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