Your Character Is Not Your Reputation
I want to make a distinction between the two ways we’re perceived in this world, and with that awareness begin to understand how we can better become the person we want to be. There are two things to consider. First is your character - The virtues and values you hold in your life. And there’s your reputation - The way others think about those virtues and values.
It may be clear already, but the difference between the two are whether you're acknowledging an internal or external perception. What’s internal is within your control, and what’s external is not, meaning that your character is not your reputation, and that the way you do things will be received differently by others that it is by yourself.
People can misinterpret your character because they don’t know your intentions. You can do your best to communicate your intentions, but when that information is received by someone else it gets filtered through their own frame of reference and perspective. Now when someone’s character is out of alignment they can try to fake it, and create a false reputation so that others think differently about them. But that deception is near impossible to keep up, and eventually it will cost them.
To really understand your character I ask you one question - “What do you do when no one else is looking, and no one else will know?” In those instances there’s nowhere to hide, and you face off with who you are at your core. Do you chase down your trash when it’s blown away? Do you practice self-compassion? Do you undo the minor mistakes you make? There’s a lot to be learned about each of our own character, take the time to probe, but don’t get too preoccupied in your reputation.