Character and Personality

17 Apr

In Benjamin Franklin’s “Continuation of the Account of My Life”  Franklin gives an example of the development of character.  It is worth mentioning that character is defined as “the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.”  Franklin’s character development is rooted in 13 virtues which he actively monitored and developed in himself through a self assessing system.  He “made a little book in which [he] allotted a page for each of the Virtues.  [He] ruled each page with red ink, so as to have seven columns, one for each day of the week… (Franklin 130)”  Character is an enduring feature that takes just as long to develop.  Franklin monitored himself for years in all the virtues he deemed important.  This is how he build character over time.  Personality on the other hand is the dressing up of character.  It is it’s outward appearance that accounts for very little.  A man in a sharp business suit with shined boots may look the part but may not necessarily have the character one would identify with a business man.  That same man from a distance looks like a man of character.  Then again, from a distance, who can tell the difference between  wise man and a fool?            

The distinction between character and personality has always been an interesting topic for me.  It began with a growing curiosity that was first hashed when I moved to New York City.  In a bustling city that never slept,  I quickly caught on to the fast pace environment where it seemed everyone was always in a rush to get to somewhere.  In my determination to make it in the big city I turned to self help books, immersing myself into a world of growth and development.  I had been interested in the book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey and began to listen to it during my commutes throughout the city in its audiobook form.  I remember one segment in particular mentioning character and personality.  Character is something that is developed over time and is a solid foundation for a personality to root itself.   Personality is a jacket you can quickly take off and just as swiftly put on-  it is the appearance of character and is the outward expression of it.  In the last few generations there has been a widening gap between the two.  Whereas before personality and character were intertwined as inseparable elements they are now two completely distinct elements. 



One Response to “Character and Personality”

  1. evie23 April 17, 2013 at 1:57 am #

    Thank your for reminding us that a suit does not make a business man. Your post is a very wise approach to the questions of personality and character; I enjoyed reading it!

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