You determine your character

We all become frustrated, indeed downright upset, sometimes over those things we cannot control.  Chief among these for me is the feeling that I might be misperceived or characterized falsely.  The process of letting go of trying to control that which isn’t controllable is something to which I need to return over and over, it seems.

Every so often we need to remind ourselves of the difference in our reputation, which we cannot determine, and our character, which we determine almost entirely.  This often-cited passage from William Hershey Davis (January 20, 1887 – September 10, 1950) is helpful for that purpose.

Reputation and Character

By William Hersey Davis

The circumstances amid which you live determines your reputation;
the truth you believe determines your character.

Reputation is what you are supposed to be;
character is what you are.

Reputation is the photograph;
character is the face.

Reputation comes over one from without;
character grows up from within.

Reputation is what you have when you come to a new community;
character is what you have when you go away.

Your reputation is learned in an hour;
your character does not come to light for a year.

Reputation is made in a moment;
character is built in a lifetime.

Reputation grows like a mushroom;
character grows like the oak.

A single newspaper report gives you your reputation;
a life of toil gives you your character.

Reputation makes you rich or makes you poor;
character makes you happy or makes you miserable.

Reputation is what men say about you on your tombstone;
character is what angels say about you before the throne of God.


  1. Jessica says:

    Well-said! Thanks for sharing this passage for reflection.


    1. Will says:

      I love using quotes with my sutednts and Wooden has many to choose from. In addition to the one mentioned here, I also really like Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out (Wooden).


  2. Sharmila says:

    Very Nice!


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