John Wooden once said that reputation is what you’re perceived to be, character is who you really are. Another way of looking at that has to do with where you get your motivation to do and be who you are? Are you motivated by those things that are external to you? What other people think, your reputation, how people perceive you to be, or are you motivated by building a better character? By worrying about what you think about yourself, about your own internal beauty and your own internal direction?
It’s great to ask advice and to get insight from other people, and use that to inform how you make your decisions. However, ultimately your character comes from you making the right decisions, and it’s your responsibility. It’s not about somebody else’s decision or somebody else’s advice that they gave you. The best advice I can give you is to learn to be more inner-directed versus being outer-directed. Outer-directed people worry about what people think about them, and what people are gonna say. Being inner-directed is about being your own person and learning to make your own decisions. Even though you take advice externally, ultimately you own the decision.
I was listening to some audio today, and one of the stories that came up during the audio was this one gentleman explaining how his uncle had given him some bum advice about investing and he lost his shirt on it. He was upset with his uncle, extremely upset, and there was a rift between the two of them, because he was blaming his uncle for this bad advice. He felt that his uncle should pay him back for the money that he lost. The rationale is that his uncle is a multi-millionaire and he can afford to rescue him from the mistake.
The reality is the gentleman made the decision whether to act on the advice. If he should invest his money and chase the market. Now, there is nothing wrong with investing, provided you know what you’re doing, or you do it under good advice of knowledgeable people. But to jump in on somebody else’s advice, without doing your research, and then to blame the other person when it falls apart, is wrong. The only person you need to blame is the person that’s looking back at you in the mirror. That is where true character comes from.
Don’t worry about what other people are going to say about you, just worry about what you have to carry with you from now to the next day to the next year. That’s your character. That’s something that nobody can take from you.