“Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching.”
—Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States
Image from Unsplash by Marten Newhall
Thomas Jefferson was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, and Founding Father who served as the third President of the United States from 1801 to 1809. He was the principle author of the Declaration of Independence and a significant proponent of democracy, republicanism, and individual rights.
Today’s quote points to the importance of personal character, honesty, and integrity in holding each other to the highest standards of personal conduct.
What might Jefferson think about our world today, where, for all intents and purposes, the world really is watching our every move?
How pleased and proud are you regarding your personal and professional conduct? Where is there room for higher standards you wish to live by and show the world?
Who have been the most influential people throughout your life, helping to shape your character?
Examine your most favorable and admirable traits to see when they were developed. What made you decide, intentionally or by default, to adopt your temperament, personality, and general approach to life?
On the flip side, what are some of your bad habits and less desirable character traits? What people or other factors influenced these qualities and behaviors to become your less than optimal self?
Take a good long and objective look at the company you keep. Where is it time for an upgrade? Where might you perhaps delete some viruses or other character software running in the background?
“You can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips.”
—Oliver Goldsmith, 18th Century Irish Poet
Over the past few years I have gained a great interest in history, with a particular emphasis on the lives of remarkable people who have shared our world.
In his book, The Road to Character, author David Brooks focuses on the deeper values that inform the lives of numerous pivotal figures. I had no knowledge of many of them before reading this book.
Introducing the terms “resumé virtues” and “eulogy virtues,” Brooks points to the external achievement of wealth, fame, and status, comparing them to qualities that lie at the core of our being, such as kindness, bravery, honesty, and faithfulness. How we balance the two types of virtues along our life journey represents the road to character we can choose to navigate and explore.
Who are the leaders and special individuals – today, and from the past – that helped you become the person you are today?
What examples did they set through their daily efforts as well as their words?
What sermons are you delivering each day in your personal and professional communities?