Public behavior is merely private character writ large.


Public behavior is merely private character writ large. – Stephen Covey

"Is that a picture of you, mama?"

What does that mean?
How you behave is based on your rules, beliefs and values. These are also key components of your character. Thus what your have as your character will be a huge influence on your behavior.

Some people try to keep parts of themselves hidden from public view (there are so many politicians in the news lately who thought they could keep it hidden), but most people are fairly consistent in their character and their behavior.

Why is character important?
For most people, how they behave in private is how they really are. Most people also behave the same way in public, showing they are consistent in their behavior. The common foundation of their behavior, both public and private, is their character.

At thefreedictionary.com, character has a number of definitions, but the two that seem to apply best to this quote are “Moral or ethical strength”  and “A description of a person’s attributes, traits, or abilities.” Take a moment and substitute each of those words into the quote in place of the word character. Does it make a little more sense?

Some people try to live two lives. There have been a number of scandals recently involving politicians who did things in private that was different than their public character. These have resulted in resignations and other problems for people involved.

Their private character came out and their behavior was made public. The difference between the two, when the private character was seen by people who thought they knew them, is what caused the problem. I hope you don’t have a problem.

Where can I apply this in my life?
This quote is the positive side of another post I did a while back. Where that quote was all about not doing things you wouldn’t want to have made public, this one is more about being your true self at all times. What kind of person are you? What do you believe in?

Grab some paper and answer those questions. Then answer these questions. What are your moral and ethical strengths? Answer the next three in terms of your private character. What are your best attributes? What are your best traits? What are your best abilities?

I imagine you have an impressive list of the best qualities of your inner character. Next make a list of all the public things that might not have been quite as stellar. Write down anything in the last five years or so that might not have lived up to your best self, as listed on the paper so far.

As I don’t know you, I can’t really give you any direct advice. Instead, I’ll ask you to consider what might have happened to cause you to violate one (or more) of the principals of your private character. For each ‘violation’, list the thing or things that you believe might have caused you to stray.

Look through the list for any patterns. Long ago, when I did something similar, I found that alcohol was involved in the bulk of my violations. So, one of my actions was to find out a way to have fun without relying on the crutch of alcohol. I might not be as much fun at parties, but at least I can remember what I did and said come morning.

Another pattern involved some of the people I used to hang out with. It wasn’t fun ‘de-friending’ them, but in my case, it had to be done. Whatever patterns your find, those are the first things to get started on. Don’t forget to come back and get the others later today.

Now, take one of the patterns and try to figure where you can short-circuit it. Do you need to avoid a certain substance? Where and when and from whom is it available and make sure you stay away from these things. If there’s going to be a party and you know that temptation will be there, call in sick. Catch up with your other friends on another day.

It won’t be easy, but eventually, you will become what you do consistently. Be yourself, your true best self. Let temptation drop away (or avoid it until you are strong enough to resist). After all, we’re only talking about how people are going to talk about you when your back is turned. It might be helpful to put good words in their mouths, or at least not provide them with bad ones.

From: Twitter, @motivatquotes
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/s/stephencov131986.html
Photo by wetwebwork

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About philosiblog

I am a thinker, who is spending some time examining those short twitter quotes in greater detail on my blog.
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