This particular Tip will be a little different than usual. Although I usually like to keep things very simple and practical, I sometimes like to go deep – especially when it has to do with the important things that make up life, which this Tip does.
I have discovered that substance is one the most important qualities that a person can possess. A person of substance is real, without any façade or pretense. They do not try to hide things from you, manipulate you or play games with you. They are always on the “up and up”. They do not pretend to be something they are not. Their primary focus is always on the inner person of integrity rather than outward things.
Someone who is pretentious, on the other hand, is primarily concerned about their outward appearance; wearing certain clothes, looking a certain way, or driving the right kind of vehicle; the person of substance knows that those are not the important things in life. Life is made up of much more than the latest fads. A person of substance can also drive a nice car, wear nice clothes and look their best as well. However, they truly understand that those are not the things that make them who they are. They are fine with those things; they are fine without those things.
Another way of looking at this, which might be a little clearer, is to look at the difference between character and reputation. Character is what you really are when no one is watching. It is the REAL YOU. Reputation is who and what you want others to think you are regardless of what the truth really may be.
When I think of character, my mind often drifts to the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. History records him as being a person of character and integrity. He also had a great reputation. But, his reputation was built upon his character; not the other way around. When you try to build your character on your reputation, it is only a matter of time until it falls apart.
President Lincoln once said, “Character is like a tree and reputation is like a shadow. The shadow is what we think we are; the tree is the real thing.” That is what I am talking about in this Tip. A person of character is a person of substance. They are filled with integrity and are always real, forthright, and honest. A person full of pretense relies upon their reputation. They have to be very careful that no one finds out what they are really like, otherwise their reputation will reveal that they are not who they claimed to be all along.
I understand this concept because there have been times in my own life when I have lived by pretense. I wanted to have the right friends, the right job, or go to the right church. I wanted to be seen with people who could perhaps give me a better opportunity in life for advancement. Although I have not lived a lot of my life that way, I am sad to say that I have lived some of it that way. And, I look back on those times and see that is not really the right way to live. It is much better to be a person who is not pretentious. It is better to be filled with substance, character and integrity. I know that when I make those qualities the focus of my life, it is only a matter of time before advancement, opportunity and the right people have always come along. Some people might call this the law of attraction.
Have you given much thought to those two different qualities of life? If you are more concerned about what other people think about you than what you think about yourself, then you may have a mild case of pretense. However, when you are true to your own values, beliefs, ethics and morals, regardless of what the crowd says or does, then you are a person of character and substance.
It makes me extremely sad to see that most of the well-known people in Hollywood and many of our elected leaders are living lives of pretense. We hear stories often of people getting caught doing something unethical or immoral in their life. It has grown to epidemic proportions! That is not said to be judgmental; I am merely stating what I observe taking place in our world. However, I am also well aware that there are some wonderful people who always do what is right, regardless of who is watching. Those are the people that rarely make the headlines. They are people of character and integrity. They are people of substance and not pretense.
I trust that this concept will become a simple key to your daily life. Start Thinking this way: “What if the person I am talking about right now were listening to what I am saying?” Or, “What if the details of my business dealing were exposed tonight on the 6 o’clock news?” Or, “Would I watch the same TV programs while in a hotel room on a business trip if others could see what I am watching?” Asking yourself those questions would go a long way in helping you to be a person of substance rather than a person of pretense.
At the end of the day, no one knows what you or I are really like except ourselves. I don’t know about you, but I am the last person I want to fool!
Tip: Substance triumphs over pretense every time!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm