Your reputation is powerful. I recently sat in on a workshop covering best practices for managing one’s reputation. The three prevailing themes were:
1. What do you perceive your reputation to be?
2. What do you want your reputation to be?
3. How do you plan to make your desired reputation a reality?
None of these is very helpful if you do not know what your reputation actually is. That requires the hard work of going to someone and asking them to tell you about yourself.
I will never forget the wise words of Margaret, one of my middle school classmates. I’m walking to the school bus after classes had ended for the day, making all kinds of pompous comments. I was that not-cool kid who tried extra hard to fit in. Foolish.
Finally, Margaret got fed up and stopped me before getting on her bus: “You think you’re the s%#t, but you’re not.”
If I was born with a tail, it would have been tucked all the way between my legs. I had an idea of what I wanted my reputation to be, but had lost sight of what my real reputation was. I had no idea that humility rather than jackass-like behavior was necessary in managing my reputation. Margaret’s insights helped me re-calibrate.
So, before you receive an unpleasant dose of medicine like that served to me by Margaret, develop a level of self-awareness by:
1. Identifying a core group of people who represent the various parts of your life;
2. Asking the people in that group for their observations of what your reputation is;
3. Getting their thoughts on what you might do to maintain, repair, or enhance your reputation;
3. Asking for them to encourage you whenever they notice you making positive gains and to hold you accountable when they see you stepping backwards; and
4. Checking back in periodically with this group to gauge how your reputation is changing.
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. -Proverbs 27:17
What else? What other things are key to managing your reputation?