This list was compiled by Michael Josephson who highlighted his favorites in bold.

Quotes by Michael Josephson

  • Character is the moral strength to do the right thing even when it costs more than you want to pay. – Michael Josephson
  • Good character is the single most important attribute of a successful and worthy life. — Michael Josephson
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • If we don’t invest now in building character in children we will surely invest more tomorrow in trying to repair adults. – Michael Josephson
  • We judge our own character by our best intentions and our most noble acts, but others will judge us by our last worst act. – Michael Josephson
  • Hire for character, train for skills. – Michael Josephson
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Character is ethics in action. – Michael Josephson
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Character refers to dispositions and habits that determine the way that person normally responds to desires, fears, challenges, opportunities, failures, and successes. — Michael Josephson
  • 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
  • Lincoln described character as 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • If you pay too much attention to your reputation, you could lose your character. – Michael Josephson
  • Neither heredity nor environment determine character. But whether we give in to or overcome the negative messages we are exposed to as we wend 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
  • 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
  • Beware of people who constantly assert their integrity and honor. People of character don’t have to point it out. – Michael Josephson
  • There is no adversity that cannot be overcome by good character.  Michael S. Josephson
  • 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
  • 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

By classical philosophers and historians

  • A man’s character is his fate. — Heraclitus
  • The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be. ~ Socrates
  • 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. – Aristotle
  • 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
  • Character is simply habit long continued. – Plutarch
  • We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit. – Aristotle
  • Virtue herself is her own fairest reward. -Silius Italicus
  • What most counts is not merely to live, but to live right. – Socrates
  • Put more trust in nobility of character than in an oath. — Solon
  • 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
  • It 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)
  • In the arena of human life the honors and rewards fall to those who show their good qualities in action. – Aristotle
  • We become just by performing just actions, temperate by performing temperate actions, brave by performing brave actions. – Aristotle,
  • Our characters are the result of our conduct. – Aristotle
  • 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
  • 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)
  • People that seem so glorious are all show. Underneath they’re like anybody else. – Euripides
  • If you want to know what a person’s character, take notice of how he acts when he loses money. – Proverb
  • No one becomes depraved all at once. — Juvenal
  • The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear. – Socrates

By the rest of the world

  • 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
  • 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. — R. C. Samsel
  • Character is power. – Booker T. Washington
  • Of all the properties which belong to honorable men, not one is so highly prized as that of character. — Henry Clay
  • When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; / when health is lost, something is lost; / when character is lost, all is lost. – German proverb
  • 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
  • Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow 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)
  • Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident, and riches take wings. Only one thing endures and that is character. – Horace Greeley
  • The wealthy man is the man who is much, not the one who has much. – Unknown
  • Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy. – General H. Norman Schwarzkopf
  • Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not. – Oprah Winfrey
  • 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. – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr
  • 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
  • The strength of a man’s virtue should not be measured by his special exertions, but by his habitual acts. – Blaise Pascal
  • If someone lacks character, “Be yourself!” is the worst advice you can give. – unknown
  • Try not to become a person of success but rather try to become a person of value. Albert Einstein
  • 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.
  • You choose your socks by their color, but your friends by their character. – unknown.
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Intelligence plus character–that is the true goal of education. — Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • 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. – St. Paul, Philippians 4:8
  • It is with trifles, and when he is off guard, that a man best reveals his character. Arthur Schopenhauer
  • In great matters men show themselves as they wish to be seen; in small matters as they are. – Gamaliel Bradford
  • 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
  • Character consists of the moral awareness and strength to know the good, love the good, and do the good. – derived from Tom Lickona
  • When you choose your friends, don’t be short-changed by choosing personality over character. –W. Somerset Maugham
  • Character is a diamond that scratches every other stone. – Cyrus Bartol
  • 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
  • Character is what you are in the dark. – Rev. Dwight Moody
  • Character is revealed by how you act when you think no one is looking. – Unknown
  • 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 goodwill; 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Character builds slowly, but it can be torn down with incredible swiftness. ~Faith Baldwin
  • No change of circumstances can repair a defect of character. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Character is much easier kept than recovered. – Thomas Paine
  • An important part of who you are is what you want to be. —Amy Kampert
  • 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
  • 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
  • People of good character are not all going to come down on the same side of difficult political and social issues. . . . 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
  • 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
  • The difference between a moral man and a man of honor is that the latter regrets a discreditable act even when it has worked. H. L. Mencken,
  • Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character. –Albert Einstein
  • Put a rogue in the limelight and he will act like an honest man. — Napoleon
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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,
  • Circumstance does not make me, it reveals me. —William James
  • Fortune does not change anyone; it only unmasks them. — Henry O. Dormann
  • 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
  • It is with trifles, and when he is off guard, that a man best reveals his character. – Arthur Schopenhauer
  • 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. – Thomas Jefferson
  • Knowledge will give you power, but character earns respect. – Bruce Lee
  • It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are. ~ Roy Disney
  • Ten Rules of Thomas Jefferson: 1. Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today. / 2. Never trouble another for what you can do yourself. / 3. Never spend your money before you have it. / 4. Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap; it will never be dear to you. / 5. Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold. / 6. Never repent of having eaten too little. / 7. Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly. / 8. Don’t let the evils which have never happened cost you pain. / 9. Always take things by their smooth handle. / 10. When angry, count to ten before you speak; if very angry, count to one hundred. – Thomas Jefferson,
  • 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
  • The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built. –Eleanor Roosevelt
  • 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
  • Fame is what you have taken, / Character’s what you give; / When to this truth you waken, / Then you begin to live. – Bayard Taylor
  • Wherever man goes to dwell, his character goes with him. – African Proverb
  • We do not need more intellectual power, we need more spiritual power. We do not need more knowledge, we need more character. – Calvin Coolidge
  • 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
  • How a people play the game shows something of their character; how they lose shows all of it. — unknown
  • We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • 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. ~J.C. Watt
  • The greatest pleasure I know is to do a good action by stealth and have it found out by accident. –Charles Lamb
  • Personality can open doors, but only character can keep them open. – Elmer G. Letterman
  • 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
  • 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
  • You cannot hope to build a better world without improving 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • There is no royal road to virtue. – Sir Thomas Browne
  • If you will think about what you ought to do for other people, your character will take care of itself. – Woodrow Wilson
  • 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
  • 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? —G.B. Trudeau, Doonesbury
  • 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
  • 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,
  • Sports do not build character. They reveal it. –Heywood Hale Broun
  • Human character evermore publishes itself. The most fugitive deed and word, the intimated purpose, express character. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Sincerity is impossible unless it pervades the whole being, and the pretense of it saps the very foundation of character. – James Russell Lowell
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • One can acquire everything in solitude except character. – Henri Stendhal
  • One must judge men, not by their opinions, but by what their opinions have made of them. – Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
  • Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds. – George Eliot
  • There is much difference between imitating a good man and counterfeiting him. — Benjamin Franklin
  • Our enemies’ opinion of us comes closer to the truth than our own. –Francois La Rochefoucauld
  • Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. – Lord Acton
  • Nothing shows a man’s character more than what he laughs at. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Tell me thy company, and I’ll tell thee what thou art. – Cervantes, Don Quixote
  • 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
  • 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
  • The lack of wealth is easily repaired but the poverty of the soul is irreplaceable. – Michel de Montaigne
  • The more things a man is ashamed of, the more respectable he is. – George Bernard Shaw
  • The real gentlemen 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. – Hare
  • The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil. – Hannah Arendt
  • 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
  • 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 sportingman. – Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • 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
  • 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
  • It is easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them. – Alfred Adler
  • What a person praises is perhaps a surer standard, even, than what he condemns, of his character, information and abilities. – Hare
  • You will become as small as you controlling desire; as great as your dominant aspiration. – James Allen
  • Show class, have pride, and display character. If you do, winning will take care of itself. — Coach Paul (Bear) Bryant
  • 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
  • One does evil enough when one does nothing good. ~ German proverb
  • Don’t try to be different. Just be good. To be good is different enough. ~ Arthur Freed
  • Live truth instead of professing it. ~ Elbert Hubbard
  • It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for something you are not. ~ Andre Gide
  • Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world. ~ George Bernard Shaw
  • As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do. ~ Andrew Carnegie
  • Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip. – Will Rogers
  • Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself. ~ William Faulkner
  • Your religion is what you do when the sermon is over. ~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
  • My life is my message. ~ Mahatma Gandhi
  • 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
  • There is not good or bad but as thinking makes them to be. — Shakespeare
  • 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
  • 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
  • Virtue is like rich stone, best plain set. – Francis Bacon
  • Mine honour is my life; both grow in one; Take honour from me, and my life is done. – William Shakespeare, King Richard II
  • 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,
  • A man is about as big as the things that make him angry. – Winston Churchill
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • How can they expect a harvest of thought who have not had the seed time of character. – Henry David Thoreau
  • 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
  • Now I know better, so I do better. – Maya Angelou
  • 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
  • One of the troubles of our times is that we are all, I think, precocious as personalities and backward as characters. – W. H. Auden
  • Virtue is harder to be got than knowledge of the world; and, if lost in a young man, is seldom recovered. – John Locke
  • Society’s demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases. – John Adams

Reputation

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • A single lie destroys a whole reputation for integrity. – Baltasar Gracian
  • 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
  • If you pay too much attention to your reputation, you could lose your character. – Michael Josephson
  • Reputation is character minus what you’ve been caught doing. –Michael Iapoce
  • A good name is better than precious ointment. – Hebrew Bible. Ecclesiastes7:1.
  • Reputation, reputation, reputation! O, I ha’ lost my reputation, I ha’ lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial! – William Shakespeare
  • 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
  • Time, which alone makes the reputation of men, ends by making their defects respectable. – Voltaire
  • No public character has ever stood the revelation of private utterance and correspondence. – Lord Acton
  • 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
  • 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
  • A good name, like good will, is got by many actions and lost by one. – Lord Jeffrey
  • 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
  • Many a man’s reputation would not know his character if they met on the street. — Elbert Hubbard
  • The only time you realize you have a reputation is when you’re not living up to it. – Jose Iturbi
  • A good name is rather to be chosen than riches. – King Solomon, Proverbs 22:1
  • Good and bad men are each less so than they seem. – Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • A reputation for good judgment, for fair dealing, for truth, and for rectitude, is itself a fortune. – Henry Ward Beecher
  • Nothing deflates so fast as a punctured reputation. – Thomas Robert Dewar
  • Many men and women enjoy popular esteem, not because they are known, but because they are not known. – Nicholas Chamfort
  • Begin somewhere. You cannot build a reputation on what you intend to do. ~ Liz Smith
  • Confessions may be good for the soul but they are bad for the reputation. – Thomas Robert Dewar
  • Dignity does not consist in possessing honors, but in deserving them. ~ Aristotle
  • Let us be grateful to the mirror for revealing to us our appearance only. ~ Samuel Butler, Erewhon
  • With lies you may get ahead in the world – but you can never go back. ~ Russian proverb
  • 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. – Shakespeare, Othello
  • There is no character, howsoever good and fine, but it can be destroyed by ridicule, howsoever poor and witless. – Mark Twain
  • 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
  • As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. [Proverbs 23:7] ~Bible
  • 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
  • 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
  • Success is always temporary. When all is said and one, the only thing you’ll have left is your character. ~ Vince Gill
  • 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
  • The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘The signs of a hypocrite are three: 1. Whenever he speaks, he tells a lie. 2. Whenever he promises, he always breaks it (his promise). 3. 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
  • 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
  • Four principles of morality: 1) philosophical: do good for its own sake, out of respect for the law; 2) religious: do good because it is God’s will, out of love of God; 3) human: do good because it will promote your happiness, out of self-love; 4) 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

Character Education

  • 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
  • It’s easier to make a good person better than to make a bad person good. Michael Josephson
  • Character development is the great, if not the sole, aim of education. – William James O’Shea
  • 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
  • Education has for its object the formation of character. – Herbert Spencer
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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 Josephson
  • If we don’t invest now in building character into children, we will surely invest more tomorrow in trying to repair adults. – Michael Josephson
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • The proper time to influence the character of a child is about a hundred years before he is born. –William Ralph Inge
  • 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