That is H. Jackson Brown, Jr.’s definition of character. Think about that for a minute- character is defined by what you do when you are alone. As a business person, that is powerful. Your actions in a public setting are less important than what you do in the privacy of your office or off-hours.
What you do in your office time cements your reputation of having good character versus bad. Do you:
- Meet deadlines on projects?
- Make timely follow up calls/emails, prepare presentations, research pertinent topics?
- Basically, do what you say you are going to do?
Think about a typical work day. Can your teammates rely on you to achieve those tasks or are you someone who delays, procrastinates, forgets, dumps it off, etc.? When people pass your office and you look intense, is it because you are working hard on a spreadsheet or are you looking for the perfect fantasy football lineup? Do you arrive/leave five minutes before/after the boss?
Time management skills are obviously important to become a person of high work character but so does your inner drive to be seen as reliable, trustworthy and honest. As a young employee, an experienced employee in a new company, or anywhere in between, you need to understand that how people describe your character affects your assignments, promotions, reputation, and “work friends”.
People know if you are moralistic in meetings only to waste days surfing the internet? I’ve mentioned the term “Empty Suit” before. The quintessential Empty Suit lacks the ability to perform when no one is watching. They live for the spotlight and hijack it whenever they can. They cannot follow through with their promises, but don’t worry about that. They are more worried about making as good public impression.
At the end of the day, your two main assets are your name and reputation. Working hard to have good character is a good way to protect them both.