foundation of character

“While your circumstances are beyond your control, your character is not.” 
John Maxwell


Helen Keller said, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet.  Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”


What is character made of?


It is more than just values.   Character is living your values with sincerity.     Sincerity is derived from the Latin sincerus meaning clean, pure, sound.  

Values that are expressed and lived out in a pure manner demonstrate your character.     Values are often associated with a positive moral ethic, truth, honesty, humility, kindness, and patience to yourself and with others.    The values that you live determine your character. 

6 responses to “foundation of character

  1. very nicely put…..

  2. Here’s a good definition of character for you: the inward motivation to the right thing… regardless of the circumstances… and regardless of the costs…

    Or this often used one, with my own twist: character is who you are when no one is looking… and you don’t think you will get caught.

    I’ve just set up a character networking blog for Police Dynamics and Character First! It’s going to be a great site for character in the workplace and law enforcement. Check it out…

    • Nice.

      Integrity often defined as the “who you are when no one is looking”, meaning that if your private and public persona are congruent you are living in integrity. Character is a multi-facted view of a person that contains many characteristics, honesty, integrity, gentleness, kindness, humility, peacefulness, …

      Why do I do the right thing? What motivates me to do what is right?

  3. Coach:

    You’re absolutely right. Integrity is hard to define. It comes from the Latin integritas which means wholeness and completeness. We get integer and integrated from that same word. It really means being who you represent yourself to be.

    Character is the individual qualities that make up a person of integrity, along with his or her skill set. I agree with Stephen Covey when he says that our integrity is our character and our competence working in tandem. Both are important. But our society has so focused on competencies that they have left character out. We seem to believe that enough education and training will fix our problems.

    That’s one of the issues we’re dealing with over here in Afghanistan and the same thing I saw in Romania and Sierra Leone. Our problems are not competency-based for the most part. They are character-based. And if we continue to focus on achievement over character, we will continue to encourage bad character because people will cheat to win the achievement.

    I will be posting more on this idea later. Plus you can visit the Police Dynamics website at for more in-depth info. Thanks for your input.

    Sheriff Ray

    • Absolutlely.

      There is a great story about integrity and the early Roman soldier. They used to demonstrate to the commander that their armor was strong by yelling Integritas, “integrity”. Over time they got lax and the armor got weaker eventually resulting in the failure of the armor.

      Kouzes and Posner write in their book “The Leadership Challenge” a quite a bit about character and leadership. Leaders need to be people of good character.

  4. Excellent observation. I actually use that example when I do Police Dynamics training. I first learned of that tradition with the Roman army from General Krulak, former commandant of the the Marine Corps…

    Shoot me an email at and I will send you a chapter from my Police Dynamics eBook that talks about character and integrity…

    Sheriff Ray

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