I believe it is a normal human desire to be concerned about how we look on the outside. There’s nothing wrong with that. What can get us in trouble is worrying more about how we look on the outside than about how we really are on the inside. Our reputation comes from what others believe about our outside. Our character represents who we are on the inside. And the good news is that if you focus on being better on the inside than the outside, over time you will also become better on the outside. Why do I say that?
The Inside Influences the Outside
More than twenty-five hundred years ago, the Proverbs writer noted that as we think in our hearts, so we become. That ancient idea has been both echoed by other wisdom writers and confirmed by modern science. Coaches teach the importance of visualization for winning. Psychologists point out the power of self-image on people’s actions. Doctors note the impact of positive attitude and hope on healing.
What we believe really matters. We reap what we sow. What we do or neglect to do in the privacy of our daily lives impacts who we are. If you neglect your heart, mind, and soul, it changes who you are on the outside as well as the inside.
Inside Victories Precede Outside Ones
If you do the things you need to do when you need to do them, then someday you can do the things you want to do when you want to do them. In other words, before you can do, you must be.
I have often observed people who seemed to be doing all the right things on the outside, yet they were not experiencing success. When that happens, I usually conclude that something is wrong on the inside and needs to be changed. The right motions outwardly with wrong motives inwardly will not bring lasting progress. Right outward talking with wrong inward thinking will not bring lasting success. Expressions of care on the outside with a heart of hatred or contempt on the inside will not bring lasting peace. Continual growth and lasting success are the result of aligning the inside and the outside of our lives. And getting the inside right must come first—with solid character traits that provide the foundation for growth.
Our Inside Development Is Totally within Our Control
We often cannot determine what happens to us, but we can always determine what happens within us. Jim Rohn said,
Character is a quality that embodies many important traits such as integrity, courage, perseverance, confidence, and wisdom. Unlike your fingerprints that you were born with and can’t change, character is something that you create within yourself and must take responsibility for changing.
When we fail to make the right character choices within us, we give away ownership of ourselves. We belong to others—to whatever gains control of us. And that puts us in a bad place. How can you ever reach your potential and become the person you can be if others are making your choices for you?
Doug Firebaugh, author and multi-level marketing expert, says, “Winning in life is more than just money…it’s about winning on the inside…and knowing that you have played the game of life with all you had…and then some.” If you want to be successful, you must prioritize building your inside ahead of your outside.
Several years ago, teenage millionaire phenomenon Farrah Gray wrote a book called Reallionaire. He coined the term to describe “someone who has discovered that there is more to money than having money. A person who understands that success is not just about being rich in your pocket; you have to be rich on the inside, too.” At a tender age, he recognized that money without a strong character foundation can lead not to success but to ruin. If you have any doubt, just look at the number of famous child actors and young pop stars who have crashed and burned. Their stories are often sad because they focused on the externals of life instead of building internally to give themselves a strong foundation when fame and fortune came. Theirs is a fate we need to work hard to avoid by focusing on improving on the inside more than the outside.