Character: The Test of Life

by Brian Golden

The true test of character, it is said, is what someone does when no one is looking. How would you rate your character? Are you prone to altering your behavior based on whether or not someone is watching? Life is not measured by how much you can get away with—instead, the gauge is the content of your character.
Components that make up your character are trust, honesty, integrity, respect, courtesy, and service. People with character aren’t governed by fear of punishment should they be caught, but rather motivated by the desire to do the right thing.
Sacrificing one’s character is not a shortcut to success. Although these people may appear, at times, to benefit from their activities, it’s only an illusion. The fear of getting caught is a constant source of stress. When someone is caught, the result is shattered lives. And, people who lie, cheat, or steal are unhappy.
The headlines are filled with stories of how people with compromised character suffer. The impact of their actions is far-reaching, affecting loved ones, acquaintances, and strangers.
Deciding what is the proper behavior is fairly simple. Imagine yourself on the receiving end of your actions: How would you react? If you wouldn’t feel good, then it’s not the right thing for you to do. A person’s character suffers when they stop applying this test.
Your character is the foundation upon which your entire life is built. An unassailable character creates a solid foundation built into bedrock. A foundation constructed on quicksand is the result of poor character. It doesn’t take an engineer to understand which one will collapse.
So try to answer these few questions: How would you describe your foundation? Are you proud of all you have done? If not, why not? What would you do differently? Be honest. Perhaps after some review, you determine some improvement. You should begin making changes immediately; it’s never too late.
There is no action that is too small or insignificant. The satisfaction of being at peace with yourself is all the reward you need.
NOW AVAILABLE: “Dare to Live Without Limits,” the book. Visit or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at or write him c/o this paper.