CHARACTER: Greatest Quotes on Character, Reputation & Character Education compiled by Michael Josephson

Character - destiny5



compiled by Michael Josephson

Revised March 30, 2016

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  1. Of all the properties which belong to honorable men, not one is so highly prized as that of character.
    • Henry Clay
  2. When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; / when health is lost, something is lost; / when character is lost, all I lost.
    • German Proverb
  3. Sow a thought and you reap an action; lesbian sexsow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.
    • Attributed to many sources but actual source is unknown
  4. A man’s character is his fate.
    • Heraclitus
  5. Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident, and riches take wings. Only one thing endures and that is character.
    • Horace Greeley
  6. The wealthy man is the man who is much, not the one who has much.
    • Unknown
  7. No change of circumstances can repair a defect of character.
    • Ralph Waldo Emerson
  8. A good character is the best tombstone.  Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when flowers have withered.  Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.
    • Charles H. Spurgeon
  9. How important is the heart! It is there that character is formed. It alone holds the secrets of true success. Its treasures are priceless – but they can be stolen.
    • Charles Swindoll
  10. The within is ceaselessly becoming the without. From the state of a man’s heart doth proceed the conditions of his life; his thoughts blossom into deeds, and his deeds bear the fruitage of character and destiny.
    • James Allen
  11. What most counts is not merely to live, but to live right.
    • Socrates
  12. Put more trust in nobility of character than in an oath.
    • Solon
  13. Parents can only give [their children] good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands
    • Anne Frank
  14. We judge our own character by our best intentions and most noble acts, but we will be judged by our last worst act.
    • Michael Josephson
  15. When you choose your friends, don’t be short-changed by choosing personality over character.
    • Somerset Maugham
  16. Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.
    • General H. Norman Schwarzkopf
  17. An important part of who you are is what you want to be.
    • Amy Kampert
  18. Character is a diamond that scratches every other stone.
    • Cyrus Bartol
  19. Character is ethics in action.
    • Michael Josephson
  20. Character is what you are in the dark.
    • ¾ Rev. Dwight Moody
  21. Character is revealed by how you act when you think no one is looking.
    • Unknown
  22. Character is the sum and total of a person’s choices.
    • B. Fitzwater
  23. Character – The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.
    • Thomas Babington Macaulay
  24. Character is much easier kept than recovered.
    • Thomas Paine
  25. Character is the moral strength to do the right thing even when it costs more than you want to pay.
    • Michael Josephson
  26. Character is ethical and moral strength. People of good character have the moral awareness and strength to know the good, love the good and do the good.
    • Michael Josephson
  27. Character is the sum of one’s good habits (virtues) and bad habits (vices). These habits mark us and affect the ways in which we respond to life’s events and challenges. Our character is our profile of habits and dispositions to act in certain ways.
    • Tom Lickona, Eric Schaps and Catherine Lewis
  28. Character is made up of core moral principles called the Six Pillars of Character: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, caring, fairness and citizenship. Each of these virtues are independently important but together they provide the foundation for a worthy life.
    • Michael Josephson
  29. Character is the foundation stone upon which one must build to win respect.  Just as no worthy building can be erected on a weak foundation, so no lasting reputation worthy of respect can be built on a weak character.  Without character, all effort to attain dignity is superficial, and results are sure to be disappointing.
    • C. Samsel
  30. Character determines how we lead our lives, how we deal with life’s unearned fortunes and misfortunes and how we make choices that determine how those fortunes and misfortunes work to make us what we become.
    • Michael Josephson
  31. Character consists of the moral awareness and strength to know the good, love the good and do the good.
    • Derived from Tom Lickona
  32. Character is just another term for “good person.” A person of character lives a worthy life guided by moral principles. A person of character is a good parent, a good friend, a good employee and a good citizen.
    • Michael Josephson
  33. Character is the most effective means of persuasion.
    • Aristotle
  34. Character refers to dispositions and habits that determine the way that person normally responds to desires, fears, challenges, opportunities, failures and successes.
    • Michael Josephson
  35. Character is not about how much we know how to do, but how we behave when we don’t know what to do.
    • John Holt
  36. Character is both formed and revealed by how one deals with everyday situations as well as extraordinary pressures and temptations. Like a well-made tower, character is built stone by stone, decision by decision.
    • Michael Josephson
  37. Character – We describe the character of a person in reference to moral judgments about the worthiness of a person. Thus, to have a strong, great or honorable character is to be a person of merit, worthy of admiration and honor.
    • Michael Josephson
  38. Character is power.
    • Booker T. Washington
  39. Character – Someday, you will be wrestling with the great temptation, or trembling under the great sorrow of your life.  But the real struggle is here, now, in these quiet weeks.  Now it is being decided whether, in the day of your supreme sorrow or temptation, you shall miserably fail or gloriously conquer.  Character cannot be made except by a steady, long-continued process.
    • Phillips Brooks
  40. Character contributes to beauty. It fortifies a woman as her youth fades. A mode of conduct, a standard of courage, discipline, fortitude and integrity can do a great deal to make a woman beautiful.
    • Jacqueline Bisset
  41. Character is developed one positive action at a time.  Therefore, nothing is actually trivial in our lives. To grow in character development, pay attention to seemingly trivial matters. Someone who grows from each minor life event will eventually reach high levels of character perfection.
    • Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
  42. Character is simply habit long continued.
    • Plutarch
  43. Character builds slowly, but it can be torn down with incredible swiftness.
    • Faith Baldwin
  44. Good character is a universal concept composed of core ethical values that transcend cultural, religious and socioeconomic differences: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, justice and fairness, caring, and civic virtue and citizenship.
    • Derived from the Aspen Declaration 1992, Josephson Institute
  45. Good character is more important than wealth, good looks, popularity and even education. These things do not guarantee happiness and often they become obstacles to developing good character.
    • Michael Josephson
  46. Good character is not formed in a week or a month. It is created little by little, day by day. Protracted and patient effort is needed to develop good character.
    • Heraclitus
  47. Good character is the single most important attribute of a successful and worthy life.
    • Michael Josephson
  48. Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow.  The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.
    • Abraham Lincoln
  49. Lincoln described character is a tree and reputation as its shadow. The tree will always be what it is but the shadow we see depends on where we stand and the angle of the light.
    • Michael Josephson
  50. 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
  51. If you pay too much attention to your reputation, you could lose your character.
    • ¾ Michael Josephson
  52. We all have three characters:  the one we really have, the one we try to convince the world we have, and the one we think we have.
    • Michael Josephson
  53. Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.
    • Oprah Winfrey
  54. There never was a strong character that was not made strong by discipline of the will; there never was a strong people that did not rank subordination and discipline among the signal virtues. Subjection to moods is the mark of a deteriorating morality. There is no baser servitude than that of the man whose caprices are his masters, and a nation composed of such men could not long preserve its liberties.
    • Ralph Waldo Emerson
  55. Hire for character, train for skills.
    • Michael Josephson
  56. People of good character are not all going to come down on the same side of difficult political and social issues. Good people – people of character and moral literacy – can be conservative, and good people can be liberal. We must not permit our disputes over thorny political questions to obscure the obligation we have to offer instruction to all our young people in the area in which we have, as a society, reached a consensus: namely, on the importance of good character, and some of its pervasive particulars.
    • William J. Bennett
  57. What a person says and does in ordinary moments when no one is looking reveals more about true character than grand actions taken while in the spotlight. Our true character is revealed by normal, consistent, everyday attitudes and behavior, not by self-conscious words or deeds or rare acts of moral courage.
    • Michael Josephson
  58. Neither heredity nor environment determine character.  But whether we give in to or overcome the negative messages we are exposed to as we wind our way through life is often determined by whether our parents, teachers, mentors and friends exposed us to good examples and morally inspiring ideas.
    • Michael Josephson
  59. The way we treat people we think can’t help or hurt us – like housekeepers, waiters, and secretaries -tells more about our character than how we treat people we think are important. How we behave when we think no one is looking or when we don’t think we will get caught more accurately portrays our character than what we say or do in service of our reputations.
    • Michael Josephson
  60. You can easily judge the character of others by how they treat those who can do nothing for them or to them.
    • Malcolm S. Forbes
  61. The difference between a moral man and a man of honor is that the latter regrets a discreditable act even when it has worked.
    • L. Mencken,
  62. A person of character knows the difference between right and wrong and always tries to do the right thing for the right reason.
    • Michael Josephson
  63. Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.
    • Albert Einstein
  64. It is with trifles, and when he is off guard, that a man best reveals his character.
    • Arthur Schopenhauer
  65. It is not the most distinguished achievements that men’s virtues or vices may be best discovered; but very often an action of small note. A casual remark or joke shall distinguish a person’s real character more than the greatest sieges, or the most important battles.
    • Plutarch
  66. Put a rogue in the limelight and he will act like an honest man.
    • Napoleon
  67. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.
    • Aristotle
  68. One’s character is one’s habitual way of behaving. We all have patterns of behavior or habits, and often we are quite unaware of them. When Socrates urged us to Know thyself, he clearly was directing us to come to know our habitual ways of responding to the world around us.
    • Tom Lickona, Eric Schaps and Catherine Lewis
  69. Tell the truth. Do your best no matter how trivial the task. Choose the difficult right over the easy wrong. Look out for the group before you look out for yourself. Don’t whine or make excuses. Judge others by their actions and not by their race or other characteristics.
    • United States Marines
  70. A man’s mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth…  Just as a gardener cultivates his plot, keeping it free from weeds, and growing the flowers and fruits, which he requires, so may a man tend the garden of his mind, weeding out all the wrong, useless, and impure thoughts, and cultivating toward perfection the flowers and fruits of right, useful, and pure thoughts. By pursuing this process, a man sooner or later discovers that he is the master gardener of his soul, the director of his life.  He also reveals, within himself, the laws of thought, and understands, with ever-increasing accuracy, how the thought-forces and mind-elements operate in shaping his character, circumstances, and destiny.
    • James Allen
  71. The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
    • Martin Luther King, Jr
  72. The habits of feeling, action and judgment that comprise good character depend on personal self-discipline and powerful aspiration to become a good person, all of which must be drawn from within.
    • Edwin Delattre
  73. The strength of a man’s virtue should not be measured by his special exertions, but by his habitual acts.
    • Blaise Pascal
  74. Circumstance does not make me, it reveals me.
    • William James
  75. Fortune does not change anyone; it only unmasks them.
    • Henry O. Dormann
  76. Great occasions do not make heroes or cowards; they simply unveil them to the eyes.  Silently and imperceptibly, as we wake or sleep, we grow strong or we grow weak, and at last some crisis shows us what we have become.
    • Bishop Westcott
  77. It is with trifles, and when he is off guard, that a man best reveals his character.
    • Arthur Schopenhauer
  78. It is not the most distinguished achievements that men’s virtues or vices may be best discovered; but very often an action of small note. A casual remark or joke shall distinguish a person’s real character more than the greatest sieges, or the most important battles.
    • Plutarch
  79. Whenever you are to do a thing, though it can never be known but to yourself, ask yourself how you would act if all the world were looking at you, and act accordingly.
    • ¾ Thomas Jefferson
  80. It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.
    • Roy Disney
  81. Ten Rules of Thomas Jefferson: Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today. / Never trouble another for what you can do yourself. /  Never spend your money before you have it. /  Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap; it will never be dear to you. /  Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold. /  Never repent of having eaten too little. /  Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly. /  Don’t let the evils which have never happened cost you pain. /  Always take things by their smooth handle. /  When angry, count to ten before you speak; if very angry, count to one hundred.
    • Thomas Jefferson
  82. Everyone knows that weeds eat out the life of the garden and of the productive fields.  It’s like that in the building and developing of character.  No one knows our own faults and tendencies better than we do ourselves, so that it is up to each one of us to keep the weeds out, and to keep all growth vigorous and fruitful.
    • George Matthew Adams
  83. Knowledge will give you power, but character earns respect.
    • Bruce Lee
  84. The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.
    • Ralph Waldo Emerson
  85. Beware of people who constantly assert their integrity and honor. People of character don’t have to point it out.
    • Michael Josephson
  86. People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.
    • Eleanor Roosevelt
  87. The heroic hours of life do not announce their presence by drum and trumpet, challenging us to be true to ourselves by appeals to the martial spirit that keeps the blood at heat.  Some little, unassuming, unobtrusive choice presents itself before us slyly and craftily, glib and insinuating, in the modest garb of innocence… Then it is that you will be summoned to show the courage of adventurous youth.
    • Justice Benjamin N. Cardozo
  88. Fame is what you have taken, / Character’s what you give; / When to this truth you waken, / Then you begin to live.
    • Bayard Taylor
  89. Happiness is inward, and not outward; and so it does not depend on what we have, but on what we are.
    • Henry Van Dyke
  90. Wherever man goes to dwell, his character goes with him.
    • African Proverb
  91. There is no adversity that cannot be overcome by good character.
    • Michael S. Josephson
  92. Virtue herself is her own fairest reward.
    • Silius Italicus
  93. We do not need more intellectual power; we need more spiritual power.  We do not need more knowledge; we need more character.
    • Calvin Coolidge
  94. I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.
    • George Washington
  95. How a people play the game shows something of their character; how they lose shows all of it.
    • Unknown
  96. If someone lacks character, “Be yourself!” is the worst advice you can give.
    • Unknown
  97. We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.
    • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  98. There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught.
    • C. Watt
  99. The greatest pleasure I know is to do a good action by stealth and have it found out by accident.
    • Charles Lamb
  100. Personality can open doors, but only character can keep them open.
    • Elmer G. Letterman
  101. As you live your values, your sense of identity, integrity, control, and inner-directedness will infuse you with both exhilaration and peace. You will define yourself from within, rather than by people’s opinions or by comparisons to others.
    • Stephen Covey
  102. I have a dream…that one day my four little children, will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skins, but by the content of their character.
    • Martin L. King, Jr.
  103. It can be frustrating and even frightening to observe the success which sometimes comes to outlaws and rogues who seem to refute notions of universal justice. Every time we see a villain enjoying the fruits of dishonorable acts we find ourselves doubting the value of character and the validity of the virtues we have been taught.  Thus, it takes character to believe in character, but that belief is always rewarded, often by material success, but always by the esteem it earns from those who matter.
    • Michael Josephson
  104. Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself.
    • Walter Anderson
  105. One who faces and who fears the right things and from the right motive, in the right way and at the right time, possesses character worthy of our trust and admiration.
    • Derived from Aristotle
  106. There is the need for someone against which our characters can measure themselves. Without a ruler, you won’t make the crooked straight.
    • Seneca
  107. You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end, each of us must work for his own improvement and at the same time share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful.
    • Marie Curie
  108. Try not to become a person of success but rather try to become a person of value.
    • Albert Einstein
  109. Nothing about character is hereditary.  Everyone, regardless of social background, financial status, race, or sex, enters the world with an equal opportunity to become a person of great or petty character.
    • Michael Josephson
  110. The character ethic, which I believe to be the foundation of success, teaches that there are basic principles of effective living, and that people can only experience true success and enduring happiness as they learn and integrate these principles into their basic character.
    • Stephen Covey
  111. According as a man acts and walks in the path of life, so he becomes. He that does good becomes good; he that does evil becomes evil. By pure actions he becomes pure; by evil actions he becomes evil.
    • Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (c 600-300 BC) sacred philosophical Hindu literature.
  112. Into the hands of every individual is given a marvelous power for good or evil — the silent, unconscious, unseen influence of his life. This is simply the constant radiation of what man really is, not what he pretends to be.
    • William George Jordan
  113. I have learned from experience
  114. that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances
    • Martha Washington
  115. The most important ingredient we put into any relationship is not what we say or what we do, but what we are. And if our words and our actions come from superficial human relations techniques (the Personality Ethic) rather than from our own inner core (the Character Ethic), others will sense that duplicity. We simply won’t be able to create and sustain the foundation necessary for effective interdependence.
    • Stephen Covey
  116. There is no royal road or ready way to virtue.
    • Sir Thomas Browne
  117. We should every night call ourselves to an account:  What infirmity have I mastered today?  What passions opposed?  What temptation resisted?  What virtue acquired?  Our vices will abate of themselves if they be brought every day to the shrift.
    • Lucius Annaeus Seneca
  118. If you will think about what you ought to do for other people, your character will take care of itself.
    • Woodrow Wilson
  119. In great matters men show themselves as they wish to be seen; in small matters as they are.
    • Gamaliel Bradford
  120. People that seem so glorious are all show. Underneath they’re like anybody else.
    • Euripides
  121. Essential characteristics of a gentleman: The will to put himself in the place of others; the horror of forcing others into positions from which he would himself recoil; and the power to do what seems to him to be right without considering what others may say or think.
    • John Galsworthy
  122. Isn’t it possible that self-esteem isn’t causal at all, but simply the happy side effect of a sturdy character, itself the product of unambiguous moral education?
    • B. Trudeau, Doonesbury
  123. During my eighty-seven years, I have witnessed a whole succession of technological revolutions. But none of them has done away with the need for character in the individual.
    • Bernard M. Baruch
  124. Our characters are the result of our conduct.
    • Aristotle
  125. Get to know two things about a man – how he earns his money and how he spends it – and you have the clue to his character, for you have a searchlight that shows up the inmost recesses of his soul.  You know all you need to know about his standards, his motives, his driving desires, his real religion.
    • Robert James McCracken
  126. Sports do not build character.  They reveal it.
    • Heywood Hale Broun
  127. Human character evermore publishes itself.  The most fugitive deed and word, the intimated purpose, express character.
    • Ralph Waldo Emerson
  128. Sincerity is impossible unless it pervades the whole being, and the pretense of it saps the very foundation of character.
    • James Russell Lowell
  129. I have yet to meet a man as fond of high moral conduct as he is of outward appearances.
    • Confucius
  130. It’s easy to be independent when you’ve got money.  But to be independent when you haven’t got a thing – that’s the Lord’s test.
    • Mahalia Jackson
  131. If you want to know what a person’s character, take notice of how he acts when he loses money.
    • Proverb
  132. No matter how full a reservoir of maxims one may possess, and no matter how good one’s sentiments may be, if one has not taken advantage of every concrete opportunity to act, one’s character may remain entirely unaffected for the better.
    • William James
  133. I’ve never met a healthy person who worried much about his health, or a good person who worried much about his soul.
    • John B.S. Haldane
  134. Men may be divided almost any way we please, but I have found the most useful to be made between those who devote their lives to conjugating the verb to be and those who spend their lives conjugating the verb to have.
    • Sydney Harris
  135. No one becomes depraved all at once.
    • Uvenal
  136. One can acquire everything in solitude except character.
    • Henri Stendhal
  137. One must judge men, not by their opinions, but by what their opinions have made of them.
    • Georg-Christoph Lichtenberg
  138. Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds.
    • George Elliott
  139. There is much difference between imitating a good man and counterfeiting him.
    • Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
  140. Our enemies’ opinion of us comes closer to the truth than our own.
    • Francois La Rochefoucauld
  141. Power corrupts.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
    • Lord Acton
  142. Nothing shows a man’s character more than what he laughs at.
    • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  143. Reputation is character minus what you’ve been caught doing.
    • Micheal Lapoce
  144. The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.
    • Socrates
  145. Some people are molded by their admirations, others by their hostilities.
    • Elizabeth Bowen
  146. Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all
    • Sam Ewig
  147. Somehow it must be made plain that the lawyer’s moral judgment is not for hire, that there are occasions when the lawyer . . . is under a duty to act as a person of independent ethical concern with obligations not only to his client’s interests but also to fairness and justice in the management of affairs.
    • Professor Harry Jones
  148. Tell me thy company, and I’ll tell thee what thou art.
    • Cervantes, Don Quixote
  149. The character and qualifications of the leader are reflected in the men he selects, develops and gathers around him.  Show me the leader and I will know his men.  Show me the men and I will know their leader.
    • Arthur W. Newcomb
  150. The common idea that success spoils people by making them vain, egotistic, and self-complacent is erroneous; on the contrary, it makes them, for the most part, humble, tolerant, and kind.  Failure makes people cruel and bitter.
    • Somerset Maugham
  151. The lack of wealth is easily repaired but the poverty of the soul is irreplaceable.
    • Michel de Montaigne
  152. The lawyer’s conscience like his law is a learned thing, not intuitive, untutored, abstract; it is not everyman’s conscience.  Applied to a specific case, the lawyer’s conscience is a reflection of an educated sense of justice under law and of a thorough awareness of a lawyer’s role in the system of continuing justice.
    • Professor David Mellinkoff
  153. There must be some point, at which the lawyer’s own personal and social morality will rebel against his traditional allegiance to his client.
    • Professor Harry Jones
  154. The more things a man is ashamed of, the more respectable he is.
    • George Bernard Shaw
  155. The real gentleman is one who is gentle in everything, at least in everything that depends on himself – in carriage, temper, constructions, aims, desires.  He is mild, calm, quiet, even temperate not hasty in judgment, not exorbitant in ambition, not overbearing, not proud, not rapacious, not oppressive.
  156. The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.
    • Hannah Arendt
  157. Class has a sense of humor. It knows that a good laugh is the best lubricant for oiling the machinery of human relations. Class never makes excuses. It takes its lumps and learns from past mistakes. Class bespeaks an aristocracy unrelated to ancestors or money. Some extremely wealthy people have no class at all, while others who are struggling to make ends meet are loaded with it. Class is real. You can’t fake it. Class never tries to build itself up by tearing others down. Class is already up and need not attempt to look better by making others look worse. Everyone is comfortable with the person who has class because he is comfortable with himself. If you have class, you’ve got it made. If you don’t have class, no matter what else you have, it won’t make up for it.
    • Ann Landers
  158. To brag little, to lose well, / To crow gently if in luck, / To pay up, to own up, / To shut up if beaten, / Are the virtues of a sporting man.
    • Oliver Wendell Holmes
  159. This above all: to thine own self be true, / And it must follow, as the night the day, /Thou canst not then be false to any man.
    • William Shakespeare, Hamlet
  160. Thus it is well to seem merciful, faithful, humane, sincere, religious, and also to be so; but you must have the mind so disposed that when it is needful to be otherwise you may be able to change to the opposite qualities.
    • Niccolo Machiavelli
  161. To make astute people believe one is what one is not is, in most cases, harder than actually to become what one wishes to appear.
    • Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
  162. It’s actually easier to truly become a person of good character than to persuade others we are what we are not.
    • Michael Josephson
  163. It is easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them.
    • Alfred Adler
  164. What a person praises is perhaps a surer standard, even, than what he condemns, of his character, information and abilities.
    • Hare
  165. You will become as small as you controlling desire; as great as your dominant aspiration.
    • James Allen
  166. Show class, have pride, and display character. If you do, winning will take care of itself.
    • Coach Paul (Bear) Bryant
  167. The truth of the matter is that you ALWAYS know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.
    • General H. Norman Schwarzkopf
  168. What is popular is not always right, and what is right is not always popular.
    • Unknown
  169. One does evil enough when one does nothing good.
    • German Proverb
  170. Don’t try to be different.  Just be good.  To be good is different enough.
    • Arthur Freed
  171. Live truth instead of professing it.
    • Elbert Hubbard
  172. It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for something you are not.
    • Andre Gide
  173. Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world.
    • George Bernard Shaw
  174. As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say.  I just watch what they do.
    • Andrew Carnegie
  175. Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.
    • Will Rogers
  176. Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors.  Try to be better than yourself.
    • William Faulkner
  177. Your religion is what you do when the sermon is over.
    • Jackson Brown, Jr.
  178. My life is my message.
    • Mahatma Gandhi
  179. I realized that if what we call human nature can be changed, then absolutely anything is possible.  From that moment my life changed.
    • Shirley MacLaine
  180. There is not good or bad but as thinking makes them to be.
    • Shakespeare
  181. Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and griefs which we endure help us in our marching onward.
    • Henry Ford
  182. Whenever I dwell for any length of time on my own shortcomings, they gradually begin to seem mild, harmless, rather engaging little things, not at all like the staring defects in other people’s characters.
    • Margaret Halsey
  183. Choose your friends by their character and your socks by their color.
  184. In the arena of human life the honors and rewards fall to those who show their good qualities in action.
    • Aristotle
  185. We become just by performing just actions, temperate by performing temperate actions, brave by performing brave actions.
    • Aristotle
  186. I am responsible. Although I may not be able to prevent the worst from happening, I am responsible for my attitude toward the inevitable misfortunes that darken life. Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life.  I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself.
    • Walter Anderson
  187. Be grateful for the joy of life. Be glad for the privilege of work. Be thankful for the opportunity to give and serve. Good work is the great character-builder, the sweetener of life, the maker of destiny. Let the spirit of your work be right, and whether your task be great or small you will then have the satisfaction of knowing it is worthwhile.
    • Grenville Kleiser
  188. What you are comes to you.
    • Ralph Waldo Emerson
  189. Virtue is like rich stone, best plain set.
    • Francis Bacon
  190. Mine honour is my life; both grow in one; Take honour from me, and my life is done.
    • William Shakespeare (King Richard II)
  191. Emotional maturity is ability to stick to a job and to struggle through until it is finished; to endure unpleasantness, discomfort, and frustration; to give more than is asked for or required; to size things up and make independent decisions; to work under authority and to cooperate with others; to defer to time, other persons, and to circumstances.
    • Edward A. Strecker,
  192. A man is about as big as the things that make him angry.
    • Winston Churchill
  193. There are two lives to each of us, the life of our actions, and the life of our minds and hearts.  History reveals men’s deeds and their outward characters, but not themselves.  There is a secret self that has its own life, unpenetrated and unguessed.
    • Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  194. A man of character finds a special attractiveness in difficulty, since it is only by coming to grips with difficulty that he can realize his potentialities.
    • Charles de Gaulle
  195. We are spinning our own fates, good or evil, and never to be undone. Every smallest stroke of virtue or of vice leaves its ever so little scar…Nothing we ever do is, in strict scientific literalness, wiped out.
    • William James
  196. If to do good were easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men’s cottages princes’ palaces.
    • William Shakespeare
  197. The choices that make a significant difference in our lives are the tough ones. They’re not often fun or easy, but they’re the ones we have to make, and each is a deliberate step toward better understanding who we really are.
    • Alexandra Stoddard
  198. Civilization is first of all a moral thing. Without truth, respect for duty, love of neighbor, and virtue, everything is destroyed. The morality of a society is alone the basis of civilization.
    • Henri Frederic Amiel (1821-1881; Swiss philosopher, poet, critic)
  199. The person of intellect is lost unless they unite with energy of character. When we have the lantern of Diogenes we must also have his staff.
    • Sebastien-Roch Nicolas de Chamfort (1741-1794; French writer)
  200. is easy enough to arouse in a listener a desire for what is honorable; for in every one of us nature has laid the foundations or sown the seeds of the virtues. We are born to them all, all of us, and when a person comes along with the necessary stimulus, then those qualities of the personality are awakened, so to speak, from their slumber.
    • Lucius Annaeus Seneca (c.4 BC-65 AD)
  201. Happiness must be cultivated. It is like character. It is not a thing to be safely let alone for a moment, or it will run to weeds.
    • Elizabeth Stuart Phelps (1844-1911; American writer)
  202. How can they expect a harvest of thought who have not had the seed time of character?
    • Henry David Thoreau
  203. It is easy enough to be virtuous When nothing tempts you to stray; When without or within No voice of sin Is luring your soul away. But it is only a negative virtue until it is tried by fire. For the soul that is worth the treasures of the earth is the soul that resists desire.
    • Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1855-1919; American poet/journalist)
  204. Now I know better, so I do better.
    • Maya Angelou
  205. So much does the moral health depend upon the moral atmosphere that is breathed, and so great is the influence daily exercised by parents over their children by living a life before their eyes, that perhaps the best system of parental instruction might be summed up in these two words: ‘Improve thyself.’
    • Samuel Smiles
  206. The crown and glory of life is character. It is the noblest possession of a man, constituting a rank in itself, and an estate in the general good- will; dignifying every station, and exalting every position in society. It exercises a greater power than wealth, and secures all the honor without the jealousies of fame. It carries with it an influence which always tell; for it is the result of proved honor, rectitude, and consistency- qualities which, perhaps more than any other, command the general confidence and respect of mankind.
    • Samuel Smiles
  207. One of the troubles of our times is that we are all, I think, precocious as personalities and backward as characters.
    • H. Auden
  208. Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve… You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.
    • Martin Luther King, Jr.
  209. Society’s demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases.
    • John Adams
  210. In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.
    • Anne Frank
  211. Virtue is harder to be got than knowledge of the world; and, if lost in a young man, is seldom recovered.
    • John Locke, Some Thoughts Concerning Education
  212. To point out the importance of circumspection in your conduct, it may be proper to observe that a good moral character is the first essential in a man, and that the habits contracted at your age are generally indelible, and your conduct here may stamp your character through life. It is therefore highly important that you should endeavor not only to be learned but virtuous.
    • George Washington, in a letter to his nephew in 1790
  213. Intelligence plus character- that is the true goal of education.
    • Martin Luther King, Jr.
  214. Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, fix your thoughts on such things.
    • Paul, Phillipians 4:8


  1. Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow.  The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.
    • Abraham Lincoln
  2. Lincoln described character is a tree and reputation as its shadow. The tree will always be what it is but the shadow we see depends on where we stand and the angle of the light.
    • Michael Josephson
  3. 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
  4. If you pay too much attention to your reputation, you could lose your character.
    • ¾ Michael Josephson
  5. A good name is better than precious ointment.
    • Hebrew Bible. Ecclesiastes 7:
  6. Reputation, reputation, reputation! O, I ha’ lost my reputation, I ha’ lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial!
    • William Shakespeare (1564-1616),
  7. The great difficulty is first to win a reputation; the next to keep it while you live; and the next to preserve it after you die, when affection and interest are over, and nothing but sterling excellence can preserve your name. Never suffer youth to be an excuse for inadequacy, nor age and fame to be an excuse for indolence.
    • Benjamin Haydon (1786-1846),
  8. Time, which alone makes the reputation of men, ends by making their defects respectable.
    • Voltaire (1694-1778),
  9. A single lie destroys a whole reputation for integrity.
    • Baltasar Gracian,
  10. No public character has ever stood the revelation of private utterance and correspondence.
    • Lord Acton
  11. People who pay too much attention to their reputation – what people think of them – often lose their character.
    • ¾ Michael Josephson.
  12. The two most precious things this side the grave are our reputation and our life.  But it is to be lamented that the most contemptible whisper may deprive us of the one, and the weakest weapon of the other.  A wise man, therefore, will be more anxious to deserve a fair name than to possess it, and this will teach him so to live as not to be afraid to die.
    • Cotton
  13. If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem.  It is true that you may fool all of the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all of the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.
    • Abraham Lincoln
  14. Whatever you lend let it be your money, and not your name.  Money you may get again, and, if not, you may contrive to do without it; name once lost you cannot get again.
    • Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  15. A good name, like good will, is got by many actions and lost by one.
    • Lord Jeffrey
  16. Reputation is a reward, to be sure, but it is really the beginning, not the end of endeavor.  It should not be the signal for a let-down, but rather, a reminder that the standards which won recognition can never again be lowered.  From him who gives much – much is forever after expected.
    • Alvan Macauley
  17. Of course, our assessment of a person’s character is an opinion and it isn’t always right. Abraham Lincoln recognized an important difference between character and reputation. “Character,” he said “is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing. Because the shape of a shadow is determined by the angle of light and the perspective of the observer, it’s not a perfect image of the tree. In the same way, reputation is not always an accurate reflection of character. Some people derive more benefit from their reputation than they deserve; others are better than their reputations. Still, reputation matters. It determines how others think of us and treat us and whether we are held in high or low esteem. That’s why many people and organizations are so preoccupied with their image that they actually undermine their character by concealing or creating facts to make them look better. It’s ironic that reputations are often the result of dishonesty or the lack of accountability.
    • Michael Josephson
  18. Reputation is only a candle, of wavering and uncertain flame, and easily blown out, but it is the light by which the world looks for and finds merit.
    • James Russell Lowell
  19. Many a man’s reputation would not know his character if they met on the street.
    • Elbert Hubbard
  20. The only time you realize you have a reputation is when you’re not living up to it.
    • Jose Iturbi
  21. Good and bad men are each less so than they seem.
    • Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  22. A reputation for good judgment, for fair dealing, for truth, and for rectitude, is itself a fortune.
    • Henry Ward Beecher
  23. Nothing deflates so fast as a punctured reputation.
    • Thomas Robert Dewar
  24. To enjoy a good reputation, give publicly, and steal privately.
    • Josh Billings
  25. Many men and women enjoy popular esteem, not because they are known, but because they are not known.
    • Nicholas Chamfort
  26. Begin somewhere. You cannot build a reputation on what you intend to do.
    • Liz Smith
  27. Confessions may be good for the soul but they are bad for the reputation.
    • Thomas Robert Dewar
  28. Dignity does not consist in possessing honors, but in deserving them.
    • Aristotle
  29. The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be.
    • Socrates, 470-399 BC
  30. Let us be grateful to the mirror for revealing to us our appearance only.
    • Samuel Butler, Erewhon
  31. With lies you may get ahead in the world – but you can never go back.
    • Russian Proverb
  32. Until you’ve lost your reputation, you never realize what a burden it was or what freedom really is.
    • ¾ Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind  (1936).
  33. Good name in man and woman, dear my Lord,/ Is the immediate jewel of their souls;/ Who steals my purse steals trash; ‘tis something, nothing;/ ‘Twas mine, ‘tis his, and has been slave to thousands; But he that  filches from me my good name/ Robs me of that which not enriches him,/ And makes me poor indeed.
    • ¾ Shakespeare, Othello
  34. A good name is rather to be chosen than riches.
    • King Solomon, Proverbs 22:1
  35. There is no character, howsoever good and fine, but it can be destroyed by ridicule, howsoever poor and
    • Mark Twain
  36. One stumble is enough to deface the character of an honorable life.
    • Estrange
  37. Property may be destroyed and money may lose its purchasing power; but, character, health, knowledge and good judgment will always be in demand under all conditions.
    • Roger Babson
  38. As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.
    • Bible, Proverbs 23:7
  39. Let us not say, every man is the architect of his own fortune; but let us say, every man is the architect of his own character.
    • George D. Boardman
  40. The best index to a person’s character is (a) how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and (b) how he treats people who can’t fight back.
    • Abigail Van Buren
  41. Success is always temporary. When all is said and one, the only thing you’ll have left is your character.
    • Vince Gill
  42. By constant self-discipline and self-control, you can develop greatness of character.
    • Grenville Kleiser
  43. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘If you guarantee me six things on your part I shall guarantee you Paradise. Speak the truth when you talk, keep a promise when you make it, when you are trusted with something fulfill your trust, avoid sexual immorality, lower your eyes, and restrain your hands from injustice.
    • Abu Hurayrah
  44. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘The signs of a hypocrite are three: Whenever he speaks, he tells a lie. Whenever he promises, he always breaks it (his promise).  If you trust him, he proves to be dishonest (if you keep something as a trust with him, he will not return it).”
    • Abu Hurayrah
  45. Oh you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah as witnesses to fair dealing and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety; and fear Allah for Allah is well- acquainted with all that you do.”
    • Al Maida 5:8
  46. There never was a strong character that was not made strong by discipline of the will; there never was a strong people that did not rank subordination and discipline among the signal virtues. Subjection to moods is the mark of a deteriorating morality. There is no baser servitude than that of the man whose caprices are his masters, and a nation composed of such men could not long preserve its liberties.”
    • Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882; American educator, poet, essayist)
  47. We now possess four principles of morality: 1) a philosophical: do good for its own sake, out of respect for the law; 2) a religious: do good because it is God’s will, out of love of God; 3) a human: do good because it will promote your happiness, out of self-love; 4) a political: do good because it will promote the welfare of the society of which you are a part, out of love of society having regard to yourself. But is this not all one single principle, only viewed from different sides?”
    • Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742-1799; German physicist)
  48. When we say someone has good character we are expressing the opinion that his or her nature is defined by worthy traits like integrity, courage, and compassion. No one is born with good character; it’s not a hereditary trait. And it isn’t determined by a single noble act. Character is established by conscientious adherence to moral values, not by lofty rhetoric or good intentions.
    • Michael Josephson

Character Education

  1. THE ASPEN DECLARATION 1) The next generation will be the stewards of our communities, nation and planet in extraordinarily critical times. 2) In such times, the well-being of our society requires an involved, caring citizenry with good moral character. 3) People do not automatically develop good moral character; therefore, conscientious efforts must be made to help young people develop the values and abilities necessary for moral decision making and conduct. 4) Effective character education is based on core ethical values rooted in democratic society, in particular, respect, responsibility, trustworthiness, justice and fairness, caring, and civic virtue and citizenship. 5) These core ethical values transcend cultural, religious and socioeconomic differences. 6) Character education is, first and foremost, an obligation of families and faith communities, but schools and youth-service organizations also have a responsibility to help develop the character of young people. 7) These responsibilities are best achieved when these groups work in concert. 8) The character and conduct of our youth reflect the character and conduct of society; therefore, every adult has the responsibility to teach and model the core ethical values and every social institution has the responsibility to promote the development of good character.
    • Proclamation issued July 1992 by 30 leaders in character education at a summit hosted by the Josephson Institute of Ethics. The Declaration is the foundation of the national CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition
  2. Character development is the great, if not the sole, aim of education.
    • William James O’Shea
  3. Good character is more to be praised than outstanding talent.  Most talents are, to some extent, a gift.  Good character, by contrast, is not given to us.  We have to build it piece by piece-by thought, choice, courage and determination. Nothing is more important for our personal happiness and for the good of society than acquiring the dispositions and habits which constitute good character.
    • Tom Lickona, Eric Schaps and Catherine Lewis
  4. Education has for its object the formation of character.
    • Herbert Spencer
  5. It’s easier to make a good person better than to make a bad person good.
    • Michael Josephson
  6. Throughout our history, wise thinkers and average men-on-the-street have recognized that it is character that counts. Heraclitus wrote, Character is destiny. The success or failure of character formation determines the destiny of each of us. It determines, too, the destiny of our nation. If each of us is to be fully human, then, we need to form strong characters.
    • Tom Lickona, Eric Schaps and Catherine Lewis
  7. Babies are born with neither good nor bad character.  Normal people – as they grow, learn and are trained – develop better or worse dispositions and habits of conduct.
    • Edwin Delattre
  8. We are born with a potential for good character- and for the dispositions and habits that make up bad or weak character.  Because we are born in ignorance of moral ideals, however, we must be instructed or trained if we are to achieve a good second nature.
    • Edwin Delattre
  9. A person is said to have good character when their habits, dispositions and conduct reflect a deep commitment to ethical virtues and moral principles.
    • Michael Josephson
  10. Character grows in the soil of experience with the fertilization of example, the moisture of ambition, and the sunshine of satisfaction. Character cannot be purchased, bargained for, inherited, rented or imported from afar. It must be home-grown.   Purely intellectual development without commensurate internal character development makes as much sense as putting a high-powered sports car in the hands of a teenager who is high on drugs.  Yet all too often in the academic world, that’s exactly what we do by not focusing on the character development of young people.
    • Steven Covey
  11. The formation of character in young people is educationally a different task from, and a prior task to, the discussion of the great, difficult, ethical controversies of the day. First things first. And planting the ideas of virtue, of good traits in the young, comes first. In the moral life, as in life itself, we take one step at a time. Every field has its complexities and controversies. And so does ethics. And every field has its basics. So too with values.
    • William J. Bennett
  12. When it comes to building character, wealth, good looks, athletic ability and even a high IQ are more likely to be impediments than advantages.
    • Michael S. Josephson
  13. Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.
    • Helen Keller
  14. Nothing is more important for the public wealth than to form and train youth in wisdom and virtue. Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.
    • Benjamin Franklin
  15. Nothing is more important for our personal happiness and for the good of society than acquiring the dispositions and habits which constitute good character.
    • Tom Lickona, Eric Schaps and Catherine Lewis
  16. If we don’t invest now in building character into children, we will surely invest more tomorrow in trying to repair adults.
    • Michael Josephson
  17. The proper time to influence the character of a child is about a hundred years before he is born.
    • William Ralph Inge
  18. Purely intellectual development without commensurate internal character development makes as much sense as putting a high- powered sports car in the hands of a teenager who is high on drugs.  Yet all too often in the academic world, that’s exactly what we do by not focusing on the character development of young people.
    • Steven Covey