Friday, 1 January 2010

Reputation, Personality and Character

 This is an excerpt of a lecture given by Sheikh Yassir Fazaga* entitled "The 6 C's of Good Character". - taken from Muslim Matters.

For each and everyone one of us, there are three components  -   our reputation,  our personality, and our character.

Our reputation is what people think of us, and what happens is that most of us invest most of our effort in perfecting our reputation.  Why?  Because the effort is very little and the reward is immediate.  All you have to do is just watch a politician, around election time, what do they do?  They want to seem to people that they are kind so they hold an orphan baby and take a picture and if it makes it to the headlines in the first page, they made it.  They are selling an image about themselves.  Watch politicians around the time of elections, you will see them pouring so much money in improving and selling their reputation.  So our reputation is what people think of us.

And then there is our personality and our personality is how we present ourselves to people.  And also we do spend effort and we invest money and time on improving our personality simply because the reward is also immediate and the effort is not much.  So for example, we have personality enhancement classes, we have enhancement of your smile, let us whiten your teeth for you, etc. Nothing wrong with that, but the point is that you are about to sell an image of yourself as well.  You are telling people what you seem to be, not really who you are, but what you seem to be.

And then, there is our character, and our character is who we really are.  

So reputation is what people think of us, personality is what we seem to be, and character is who we really are.

And most do not invest enough in character, we like to invest more in reputation and personality, and not in character and sadly, it is the character that really defines us.  And subhanAllah (glory be to Allah), if you have good character, the other two may come, so having good character the reward may not be immediate.  In fact many times, people with good character may go unnoticed.  In fact, many times, your good character may be a problem for you in this life.  Because you like to deal with people with clarity, you like to deal with honesty, and everyone around you is a cheater and so your goodness, your honesty becomes a problem for you.  So people say what the heck with the character, who cares, all people around me cheat, so we stop investing in our character because investing in our character becomes very problematic.  But subhanAllah, please listen to this carefully.

“Our reputation, people can ruin.  Our character, we only can ruin.” 

People can ruin your reputation if they want to and you have absolutely no control over this, but when it comes to your character, you are in full control of your character, nobody can ruin your character.  Your character is of your own making.  Your character is of your own choice.  As you live life, you are the author of your own life.

So character is our choice, reputation, people may or may not harm it, but character we only can harm.   Reputation is the camouflage, character is the real thing.  Reputation is what everybody thinks.  Character is who we really are.  So the investment must go into character and the rest may or may not come.  If they come, alhamdulilah, if they don’t come, I have good character at any case.
But the question is, two questions.  What is character? And how do you get good character?

You may wish to watch the youtube series here.

*Yassir Fazaga is an inspiring, multi-lingual speaker sought-after from USA through Canada to the Middle and Far East. He was born in Northeast Africa and moved to the United States at the age of 15; has a Bachelors Degree in Islamic Studies from the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences in Virginia; has completed all coursework for his Masters Degree in Marriage and Family Counseling from the California State University of Long Beach; is currently undertaking his Masters in Theology at Loyola Marymount University.
He is involved as a therapist at FACES, where he helps families with different challenges in life which include: domestic violence issues, communication problems, marital matters, generational gap, difficult teens, some mental and personality disorders, divorce, grief, and single parenting, among others.
Yassir Fazaga has taught the Arabic language and Islamic Sciences for the past 8 years and has taught Islamic courses on Scriptural Exegesis, and Islamic financial contracts for American Open University


ayub said...

wow ... never knew it was that complicated ...

so should we emphasize mmore on our good character ?

Capt's Longhouse said...


,,,Honesty is what makes good character !. it is not only imperative but noble. The basic lack of integrity links to bad character too.

Summary ; Just be honest and that is the baseline of good character. Very simple !!..and develop oneself from that baseline positively forward in life & living..walla.!!'ll end up as a friendly pirate. hohohoo.

Capt's Longhouse said...

...cont.(i was just kidding)hehehe

,,,If one treats everyone else and does everything with integrity, has no fear or worry, he has peace of mind!. His strength/goodness will be beaming throughtout his world and lifetime,,,indeed he has CHARACTER in the highest/noblest form and is one of the most respected and powerful features of a person. Character is even more important than reputation, its like a diamond that scratches every other stone.
,,,Without strength of character, one is reduced to some kind of animal, like a worm or parasite and as such those that have had taken their character for granted, you are just no better than an animal plus parasite to the rest of the world. !!.

i rest my case.

Zendra said...

Yub, aunty has yet to watch the youtubes as to what makes up the 6 C's of good character ;)

But offhand I can say you have an excellentreputation being head of your jamaah at uni, and you have a jovial personality.When alone you become reflective. These are products of being a person of good character, as in Tok Ubans reckoning i.e having traits like honesty and integrity as fundamental values, and not to forget taqwa as the absolute basis. Where got complicated? Personality and reputation mencermin character.

I myself got a lot to work on actually hehe

Zendra said...

Tok Uban, very true what you said. Firstly we have to be honest to ourselves and not deny the realities that are staring at us in the face (literally, too - when we have a wrinkle then we are old lah, or we are stressed. Why go for botox or what not hahaha just age gracefully kan molek dok?)

Maybe this year I'll go towards building my character a bit more. Ada such program on Kapas tak? ;)

Zendra said...

Yub, ada qualifier sikit about personality and reputation reflecting character - as pointed out by the sheikh, these can be false and just put-on when in fact that person is of devious character.

Vice versa a person of good character might display a personality of gruffness and unapproachability - then I suppose he probably needs to work on changing these if they become stumbling blocks in his life's journey.

Life's no picnic hehe...

DrSam said...

Those three combination that build up one self esteem. Well cooked with past up-bringing will steer ones to heavenly life. I, would undoubtedly still need more wisdom and guidance from the more experience folks like you kanda.

Happy new anno domini!

mamasita said...

Zen..Its true..I smile a lot so that no one can read the real real me..hehehe..nak concoct an evil scheme or an angelic plan pun I will give a big big grin!! hehehe
I hate/like the person pun I will smile and smile and smile!! hahaha

The Fleece Master said...

Dear Zen

I like this posting of yours. Thank you for sharing. Sometimes, we tend to forget the basic thing that we need for ourself because of we only see the complex side of it.

Happy New Year bebeh =))


Uncle Lee said...

Hi Zendra, Happy new year to you and all at home.
Wishing you the very best of 2010.

Very interesting topic this. I will add 'Honour' and 'Integrity' to the three you mentioned.
(though 'integrity' sometimes fail me when meeting a sarong kebaya, ha ha.)

You stay young, stay beautiful and keep a song in your heart, and have a great new year. Lee.

ps, just learned Jack Daniels and half frozen durians don't get together well at new year's eve. Ha ha.
My friends sure got one funny way of celebrating New Year..."Malaysian style", he says!!!

My head feels like Thai Monastery gongs going off.

Zendra said...

Dinda, yes I'm with you on the ultimate goal - and I'm always learning but not always executing what I've learnt. Something lacking in character perhaps.

Must read today's Star newspaper. I noticed an article on character-building written by a regular columnist based in London. Let's see what he has to say.

Zendra said...

mamasita :D smiling is regarded a sedekah and just imagine they amount of charity you have given out by just bedazzling others with your smiles. Way to go dear - boleh jadi wakil rakyat nampak gaya sebab you will keep all the masalah negara to yourself and away from the constituents.

Zendra said...

Wow Fleece Master, what's with the z@? This aging bebeh wants to learn.

Yup it's all about character basically - and because you already have a pleasant personality and have earned a good reputation, then the package that is you is indeed a formidable one!

All the best in 2010 for you and Ms Lim (not the English teacher hehe)

Zendra said...

Haha Lee, integrity disintegrates when head on with a sarong kebaya no matter how honourable the original intentions.

Durians when fermented with JD's inside the belly, I would imagine a truly gaseous by-product of tempoyak churning around ready to cause fireworks on the stroke of midnight! Auld Lang Syne to you Lee :)

Wishing you all health and happiness and maintain the ninja mind in 2010...

Capt's Longhouse said...


,,,ref. to your "go towards building my character a bit more.",... honestly what you should do is be a 'Coach/Mentor' to the younger generation cos. you have what it takes.

"Every master was once a disaster"

,,,at our age, we tend to ask - 'so what the heck do i do now ?'..and the little voice in your head saying something like ...Zen, exercises, zenexercise,,yes i need or have time to exercises !!!! now who is doing that talking ? its your conditioned mind, that's who !! ...don't just listen to it but do the action exercises, do your declarations and be happy & healthy.
,,,Hahaha !! mana exercise reports ??. 2010 dah Yeop Oii !!.

Zendra said...

Alamak I had attributed an article in The Star newspaper to the wrong person. It was in fact part of a speech delivered by the Chief Secretary of the Malaysian govt, the highest ranking officer of the civil service. I particularly like this passage:

In reminiscing our lives and choices we make, we will find that the one thing evident every time in all situations is our character. In each and every situation we participate in, our character is always mirrored in that situation.

I cannot overemphasise how important this period of your life is. The learning of good morals and setting of crystal clear boundaries of rights and wrongs will define the path and pattern you will set for your own journeys and how that journey shall impact the world around you.

It has been said – “Good character is more to be praised than outstanding talent. Most talents are to some extent a gift.

Good character, by contrast, is not given to us. We have to build it piece by piece — by thought, choice, courage and determination.”

Character is built from a decision made within us. It comes from the heart of wanting to make a difference in the time we are here. Where there is strength in character, you will execute the same sound actions whether being watched by many, by one or by no one.

It will not matter whether your parents are watching over you, your teachers and lecturers are grading you, your peers judging you or your bosses checking on you. You will act and deliver to form, with or without an eye over you. This is the fundamental to being true to yourself; it is the crux of good character-building – it is doing the right thing, every time.

In the final analysis, it is your day-to-day decisions that will reveal your true self and potential to the world.

It is this self that will beckon opportunities and open doors. It is this self that will attract sustainable success and senior investments of trust by many in you. It is this strength in character that will stay long after you are gone. The work and deeds that you leave behind will speak louder than your own voices.

Zendra said...

Capt, exercises been a little lacking lah - hmmm let's see, this past week, no climbing but had bowling tournament Sunday, 1 hr gym Wednesday, 1.5 hrs poco-poco Thursday and yesterday morning jogging twice round TTDI park. Not too bad lah considering holiday season.

But jadi coach/mentor for kiddos? Hahaha sungguh tak layak!!! They need to jive with people a lot younger - not those older than their own mums ;)