Skip to main content

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are. The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” ~John Wooden

It certainly seems as though there is a moral void in leadership around the world these days.

Betsy DeVos, head of the Department of Education in the U.S., shows up at Marjory Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida for nothing more than an insincere photo op.

Dr. Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, spends $31,000 on a table while redecorating his office.

Donald Trump….well, the list is too long. We’ll leave it at the affair with a porn star while his wife was pregnant.

Don’t these people know that the world is watching? That their choices made in private matter?

Apparently not.

And now Doug Ford, brother of deceased Rob Ford, former disgraced, drug-addled mayor of Toronto, is elected as the head of the PC Party in Ontario.


I have always been of the opinion that what one does in the privacy of one’s own home, without cameras watching, matters as much as what one does in public with cameras on. More, in fact.

Which is why I was particularly pleased to see the following bit of news from my Twitter feed on Saturday night.

Former Vice President Joe Biden took his granddaughter to the movies in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. over the weekend. When he left the theatre, he stopped to speak to a homeless man and a bystander took the candid shot you see here.

He’s no longer in office. This moment was not a strategic move. This was not a photo op. It was a choice born of his character as a caring man. He was completely unaware someone had snapped a picture.

Oh, that we would have more leaders in all industries who care when the cameras aren’t pointed at them.

Perhaps we can all of us fill the leadership gap by making choices like Joe. A man who served his country for decades, who suffered tragedies that would bring most of us to our knees, and who, when there are no cameras, no media, and no apparent pay-off, makes the kind of choice that demonstrates character.

Screw your reputation.

Character is the only thing that matters, long-term.

And it’s the only thing people will remember after you’re gone.

Leave a Reply