I hate to be the bearer of bad news, so don’t shoot the messenger, but contrary to popular belief character is not a product of being well-dressed. So you can do away with that old saying that “clothes make the man.” Sure enough, the clothes you adorn yourself with make you look distinguished (considering you’ve put some actual thought into it) but in no way do they define who you are. Being well-dressed does not simply confer the qualities that make up “the man” of good character. Rather, it is more than that; it is the company you keep, your convictions, experiences, among other things, that sculpt you into a man of great character.
We spend a great deal of time around friends be it in school, the workplace, or during leisure hours. Therefore, they inevitably impact our lives as we do theirs, whether or not we are conscious of it.
Our character will either be made or broken by the people we choose to surround ourselves with; surround yourself with friends of higher intellect, character, and experience, and you won’t feel at ease until you’ve reached the mark they have set as the standard (and by the time you reach that, they’ve set another…it’s an intellectual rat race). “No matter what you want to do, you will only get better if you are challenged by those who are better at it than you,” says blogger, Katherine Keegan of That Kind of Woman, while doling out an advice to a follower.
The opposite is plausible, however, when surrounded by friends with no ambition–you are likely to lose sight of yours.
Upon first glance, your closest acquaintances will most likely reflect enough about your character (and no one wants to be misrepresented). Thus, it is imperative that our companions be carefully selected lest we reap the unfortunate consequences.
The dynamics of our inner circle of friends varies: there are those that motivate and challenge us, those that falsely enable, and those whose actions render us idle and regress our progress. The decision is ultimately yours to make then, because after all, the friends you keep will effect your attitude and character (granted you allow them to). That being said, do you seek to be challenged by peers or is complacency good enough? Based on my encounters, I believe a true friend is one who will push and challenge you for no other reason but to see you realize your potential. In this way, he or she foists upon you a drive for success that ultimately permeates into your being and every aspect of your life. You learn to think more, question more, seek more understanding, about yourself, others, and the world at large. And hopefully as a result, you, too, will be driven to pass it on. These attributes would remain unattainable without your honest efforts to set them in motion.
Equally as important as acquaintances are to one’s character, are one’s beliefs and experiences. A gentleman’s core beliefs and standards represent what he stands for and lives by, respectively. Your “Guy Code,” if you will. Through years of learning and seeking more knowledge, one’s beliefs (whatever they may be in) become stronger and firmly rooted. You find yourself in a myriad of circumstances whereby your voiced opinion and stance on an issue is backed with confidence; what you say is what you mean, and you say it like you mean it. When you know what it is you stand for, you know exactly what it is you will and will not tolerate, be it from yourself, peers, or even a potential romantic partner. Thus, your beliefs and values contribute to the strengthening of your character — a key component that allows for enduring through the experiences we all inevitably come to face in life.
People tend to gravitate towards the idea that the essence of one’s character is revealed through his choice of clothing. That if one is simply well-dressed, then chances are, he is of good character, and vice versa. This is a misconception, however, because a gentleman’s character is nothing but the product of his beliefs, his experiences in life (good and bad), and the imposed influence (conscious or unconscious) by his acquaintances, among many other things. Unfortunately, upon first gaze, clothes take precedence over character. (I am not advocating for gentlemen to not put due effort into their appearance, since a well-dressed man will accrue much respected attention.) However, we must strive to do things right if they must be done at all. The man must first be refined before he uses his clothes to conjure his well-developed character. Fellow blogger and gentleman, Robert I. Brown said it best when he took to his Twitter account and said, “It doesn’t matter how well-dressed you are if you left your manners in the closet.”
Character and manners, gentlemen. Let’s work on them!