No fate could rob us of our own—
No circumstance can make it less;
What time removes was but a loan,
For what was ours we still possess.
—Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850–1919) American Poet, Journalist
Honesty is the best policy.
I care not what others think of what I do, but I care very much about what I think of what I do. That is character.
—Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919) American Head of State, Political leader, Historian, Explorer
There is a broad distinction between character and reputation, for one may be destroyed by slander, while the other can never be harmed save by its possessor. Reputation is in no man’s keeping. You and I cannot determine what other men shall think and say about us. We can only determine what they ought to think of us and say about us.
—Josiah Gilbert Holland (1819–81) American Editor, Novelist
Watch your thoughts, they become your words
Watch your words, they become your actions
Watch your actions, they become your habits
Watch your habits, they become your character
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.
Honesty is the best policy. If I lose mine honor, I lose myself.
—William Shakespeare (1564–1616) British Playwright
Circumstances do not make the man, they reveal him.
—James Lane Allen (1849–1925) American Novelist, Short Story Writer
Character is a victory, not a gift.
It is not the oath that makes us believe the man, but the man the oath.
—Aeschylus (525–456 BCE) Greek Playwright
Good taste is the modesty of the mind; that is why it cannot be either imitated or acquired.
—Emile de Girardin (1806–81) French Journalist, Publisher
Character, like a kettle, once mended, always requires repairs.
Live that you wouldn’t be ashamed to sell the family parrot to the town gossip.
—Will Rogers (1879–1935) American Actor, Rancher, Humorist
It is well to think well. It is divine to act well.
—Horace Mann (1796–1859) American Educator, Politician, Educationalist
The time is always right to do what’s right.
—Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–68) American Civil Rights Leader, Clergyman
I have often thought the best way to define a man’s character would be to seek out the particular mental or moral attitude in which, when it comes upon him, he felt himself most deeply and intensely active and alive. At such moments there is a voice inside which speaks and says: “This is the real me!”.
—William James (1842–1910) American Philosopher, Psychologist, Physician
Everyone admires his own character.
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch, if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, if all men count with you, but none too much: if you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run, yours is the earth and everything that’s in it, and—which is more—you’ll be a man, my son.
—Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936) British Children’s Books Writer, Short story, Novelist, Poet, Journalist
The superior man is aware of Righteousness, the inferior man is aware of advantage.
—Confucius (551–479 BCE) Chinese Philosopher
If you don’t like your own character there may be a new one ready-made and waiting for you. The snake sheds its skin with impunity, relying on the same nature which you rely on.
It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.
—Warren Buffett (b.1930) American Investor
There is no better measure of a person than what he does when he is absolutely free to choose.
It’s motive alone that gives character to the actions of men.
—Jean de La Bruyere (1645–96) French Satiric Moralist, Author
Character is higher than intellect… a great soul will be strong to live, as well as to think.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82) American Philosopher
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 (1875–1967) American Economist
Don’t look at the shape—look at the character.
There is but one book for genius – nature.
—Dorothee Luzy Dotinville (1747–1830) French Dancer, Actress
Character is destiny.
—Heraclitus (535BCE–475BCE) Ancient Greek Philosopher
The willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life is the source from which self-respect springs.
—Joan Didion (1934–2021) American Essayist, Novelist, Memoirist
As there is much beast and some devil in man, so there is some angel and some God in him.—The beast and devil may be conquered, but in this life are never destroyed.
—Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834) English Poet, Literary Critic, Philosopher
There is nothing more visible than what is secret, and nothing more manifest than what is minute. Therefore the superior man is watchful over himself, when he is alone.”
—Confucius (551–479 BCE) Chinese Philosopher