Character is much easier kept than recovered.
There are few things that have as lasting an impression about a person as their character. Depending on how one looks at it, it is fortunately or unfortunately one of the hardest things to reverse about not just how others perceive us, but how we look at ourselves.
Our reputation is the most fragile aspect of our public life. It takes a lifetime for us to build one, but just a second to ruin it forever. One lie or error on our part has the potential to demolish a castle of repute painstakingly built over the years. We should therefore exercise utmost caution to safeguard our reputation at all times. Once lost, one has to walk down a long road to recover or rebuild that image. This road is invariably longer than the one you walked to get there in the first place, which is why it is pointless to act impulsively and put that hard-earned fame at stake.
Instead, we can always ensure that our actions are in consonance with our character. It helps to think twice before acting; we can always take into consideration the possible consequences of our actions. This thoughtfulness can help us develop good habits that will consolidate our standing. Good habits breed confidence, and confidence breeds character. A person with poor habits is more likely to falter than one with sturdy habits; someone with a feeble moral base is more vulnerable to succumbing to an attitude of convenience than, say, a virtuous person. It is for this reason that the former has to put in the hard yards to regain their lost credibility. On the other hand, this journey is comparatively easy for an upright person.
Thomas Paine was an American activist, philosopher and revolutionary. A staunch advocate of leading a principled life, Paine once remarked: “Character is much easier kept than recovered.”