A man’s reputation is the opinion people have of him; his character is what he really is.
~ Jack Miner
When I was younger I used to be very concerned about what other people thought of me. I used to adjust my thoughts and actions in anticipation of how it would be perceived by others. At the time I thought this was the correct way to build a foundation for a successful life and career; conforming to others’ opinions.
My older brother, Jeff, finished his bachelor’s degree from BYU when he was 35 or so. I am 10 years younger than him and happened to be at BYU at the same time working on my masters degree. We took a business class together, which I thought was fun.
Jeff is actually my half-brother as he was born from an earlier marriage of our father. He lived with his mother until his late teens. He grew up in a different part of Seattle than me that some might say was a bit rough. As such, he had vastly different experiences that contributed to a different viewpoint than I had.
During the business class, I recall a discussion where Jeff expressed a point of view that caused a bit of a stir. In hindsight, I don’t think it was really that big of a deal, however, after class while walking in the parking lot I felt to suggest to my older brother than he be more careful in what he said so as to not leave an unfavorable impression with the class or professor.
He lit into me. With passion, Jeff explained that he did not let the opinions of others determine who he was or how he acted. He had tried to do that when he was younger and it caused him to not have a solid character foundation upon which to make choices. Incorrect choices led him down a path he regretted, which contributed to him finishing college later than expected. He strongly cautioned me not to let the opinions of others determine who I was and how I would act.
Jeff passed away in 2003. I love him and miss him. I will never forget that day in the parking lot of the Marriott School at BYU. I learned a great lesson about choice and the power I held of not letting others opinions determine how I felt about myself or who I would be. I strive to live this way today.
Who have you chosen to be? Is your character based on commitment to principle, integrity and honor or some other choice? You have the power within you to become great. It all starts with a choice of who you will be. Choose greatness.