In the middle of a first date with Andrew, Jane received an urgent phone call. Could she do an immediate on-air radio interview about her recently published book on politics? There had been breaking political news all week, and her expertise and insight on the situation was wanted. Caught off guard, Jane agreed. She signaled to Andrew that she had to take the call and moved to an empty corner of the restaurant.
Fifteen minutes later, she looked up and saw Jason standing nearby. Before she could muster an apology, Andrew spoke up. “Look,” he said, “I heard only your half of the conversation, but I thought you were terrific.” He wasn’t upset by the intrusion; he was happy she had the opportunity to discuss her work.
The incident was revelatory for Jane, and more than ten years into their relationship, it still shines in her memory. In a total unforeseeable moment, she got a dazzling glimpse of what Andrew was made of and who he was; quiet confidence, class, compassion, and character.*
Character is the aggregate of your distinctive qualities and characteristics. Character is your nature and serves to distinguish who you are. Character is a piece of your humanity; it defines who you are. Character emerges and reveals itself to you in small ways every day. When it comes to the essence of your life, character counts most of all. It is a signpost for you of a lifetime worth of behavior, decisions, and service. It is your legacy.
Unfortunately, character seems to be in short supply these days, from the political stage to entertainment, to the work environment.
Recently, I attended two funerals, and during the service, there was little mention of possessions, profession, or political affiliation. Instead, character, legacy, and loved ones were the main topics of the speakers. “Mankind is our business,” Scrooge so compassionately said. And that was evident as I looked around at the individuals attending the service because the deceased individual had touched their life in a meaningful way.
As a newly married man in my early twenties, my wife’s job required her to help organize an event with political, government, business, and religious leaders. Everyone who was anyone attended the event. I sat in the back corner, and after the dinner and presentation ended, the mingling began. I watched each individual, impressed by their accomplishments and position. Twenty minutes into the “meet and greet,” a prominent businessman approached me and began asking me questions. “Who was I? Why was I there? What was I majoring in? and What did I plan to do after I graduated?” He spent 10 minutes getting to know me. I was astounded; surrounded by such prominent individuals, this man chose to see and talk with me. I was a nobody compared to all the individuals in the room.
It was a turning point moment for me. To him, I was as important as any other person at the event. His character showed through and taught me a life-long lesson. I see a trend where character is not valued in today’s society. Television portrays individuals behaving badly on reality shows, and political rivals bash each other for the sake of the win. Take a moment today to self-reflect on your character. Is it the legacy that you want to leave?
*Marano, H., Yusim, A. (2018). Psychology Today. August Edition.