Does character matter?

As we began a session, my client – let’s call him Dan – produced a quote he’d seen:

‘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

‘Ever since I saw this, it’s been on my mind. I feel like I’ve spent so much time concentrating on building my reputation that I’ve stopped working on who I am as an individual,’ said Dan.

We started by quickly checking the definition of ‘character’ – ‘the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual’.

With that in mind, I asked Dan to list what he considered to be his best mental and moral qualities. He came up with the following:

  • Enthusiasm
  • Creativity
  • Optimism
  • Independence
  • Courage
  • Inquiring mind
  • Assertive
  • Get stuff done
  • Honesty

I asked him if there were any aspects of his character he felt he needed a little work.

‘That’s just it, I’m not really sure,’ he responded.

‘What do you think your colleagues might say? What about your girlfriend? Your best mate?’ I asked.

‘Do you know what? I’m going to ask them. I’m going to ask five people what I should work on, pick out a common theme and I’m going to focus on that.’

Sure enough, he did. Over the next week, he talked to his girlfriend, his boss, a close friend and two of his peers. The theme which emerged was collaboration – he was great at having an idea, running with it and bringing it to completion but they felt he wasn’t so good at taking other people along with him. He drafted a plan of action to tackle this and emailed it to me so I could help him stay accountable. He plans to check in with the same five people in three months to see how he’s doing.

Today’s pebble for you to ponder: is there a character trait you’d like to work on? What steps will you take to do so?


Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.

If you’re ready to transform your work and life, email me and let’s have a conversation about how we can work together.

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