About character and reputation

I recently came across the following quote from Abraham Lincoln: “Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.

Considering how the passing of the sun, for example, causes a tree’s shadow to change shape (and finally disappear), the President’s statement gives me pause. How much time do I devote to “shadow observation” rather than observing the tree itself? How much time do I attend to my “personal tree” instead of worrying about shadows currently cast by it (i.e. others’ perceptions)?