Show Up and Show Out

When I first joined FranklinCovey nearly 26 years ago, I was taught the concept popularized by our co-founder Dr. Stephen R. Covey about the difference between Character Ethic and Personality Ethic.

His research from reviewing more than two hundred years of success literature taught him that those with enduring influence, credibility, and effectiveness aligned their lives with the Character Ethic versus the Personality Ethic. 

The Character Ethic refers to our intentions, values, mindsets, and behaviors. Those many components that comprise our character.

Are we trustworthy? Do we lift others up with our words and actions? Is our reputation one of dependability and making and keeping commitments? Are we loyal to those who are “absent”?

Conversely, Dr. Covey described the Personality Ethic as the veneer of what people see from us.

Perhaps it’s material assets like our car, home, briefcase, shoes, or jewelry. The Personality Ethic could also include superficial talents and contrived traits meant to impress or even manipulate others.

Since I was exposed to this contrast between the two “ethics” as Dr. Covey called them, I’ve always been a bit conflicted—after all, Dr. Covey drove a beautiful Range Rover and built a home many can’t even comprehend. Does this mean he was controlled by what he called the “social mirror”? I doubt it. Can’t someone achieve success, buy themselves and others nice things, and still have strong character? Owning a vacation cabin, buying a Gucci purse, or having over-the-top taste means you have a deficit of character?

Of course not. And I think our current On Leadership guest Eddie Turner is a superb example of the balance of both.

Eddie is one of the best examples I’ve ever witnessed of an “abundance mentality.” He’s the very essence of how Dr. Covey would have defined effectiveness. Eddie seems to always be in control of his emotions and reactions; he’s built a brand of being strategic, focused, and disciplined. He’s careful with his words, listens well, and seems to live a balanced life. Eddie, by most measures, would be a superb example of living the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Also—he always looks, by my father’s definition, “like a million bucks.” Take a stroll through not just Eddie’s social media but his Google results. Search for every possible photo of him keynoting in person or virtually, going back decades, and you see something strikingly consistent—he always looks—again to use a phrase from my dad—“like he just walked off the cover of GQ magazine.”

Eddie is nearly always in a suit, tie tied, pocket square perfectly placed, shoes shined, well groomed, a smile on his face, radiating positivity and gratitude. A gentleman from every perspective. Eddie is punctual. Eddie freely offers compliments. Eddie is a class act. To quote Bruno Mars, Eddie shows up and shows out.

What’s my point? How you show up is also who you are. How you show up reflects what you think about not only yourself, but what you think about others.

How much (or little) you respect them, value them. How you show up is also your brand, perhaps especially so post-pandemic when virtual dress codes now mean business up top and party down below for many of us. Who among us wouldn’t dare stand up during a virtual meeting? Or worse, don’t even bother to come on camera, because we just couldn’t put forth the effort to dress and groom properly for the occasion—the “occasion,” of course, meaning simply coming to work.

How are you showing up?

I often tell others—and when I say “others,” I of course mean my wife, Stephanie—being on time is less about how you value your time, and more about how you value others’ time. The same applies with how you show up. Are you showing up only for you, or are you also showing up for them?