104. A good reputation, even in darkness, keeps on shining.
Merriam-Webster defines reputation as the “overall quality or character as seen or judged by people in general.” It isn’t made up of one particular action, although a particularly good or bad one could certainly cement or destroy a reputation. But it is the sum of a person’s actions over time that constitute a reputation.
So it follows that a good reputation “keeps on shining” even in troubled times. We can retain a measure of good will and faith from others, while those whose reputation is not as strong could not.
Reputation and Social Interactions
Most of our social interactions are framed by our reputation — positively or negatively.
- If you have a reputation for being late, people will be hard-pressed to rely on you being somewhere at a certain time to take care of something important. This could be in your personal or professional life.
- If you have a reputation for not telling the truth, people will have a hard time believing what you say. At the very least they will interpret anything you say through a “is-this-really-true” filter that will make accomplishing your aims difficult.
- If you have a reputation for being reliable, for being honest in your work, people can rely on you, people can trust you — and you will be afforded opportunities that others who are less reliable and trustworthy wouldn’t.
These few examples show a fundamental truth of life — your reputation is essential. And you only have one. So “guard it with your life,” as Robert Greene says, because “reputation is the cornerstone of power.”
Your Reputation as a Bank Account
Think of your reputation like a bank account. It can be deposited into. Every time you do something excellently, every time you act with integrity, you are making a deposit. Every time you act sloppily or without integrity, you are making a withdrawal.
If you haven’t made enough positive “deposits” into your account, then when the proverbial shit hits the fan, you won’t have a balance against which to draw. This could mean not receiving the benefit of the doubt, not getting a one-time exception for special circumstances, or ending up with the short end of the stick.
And all it takes is one bad incident to ruin your reputation, often permanently. You’re only one bad decision away. So remember to guard your reputation as one of your most valuable assets, and live your life in accordance with the values that you hold highest. Your reputation will do you well, especially in difficult times.
Until next time,
We’ve been studying a book of moral sayings from two-thousand years ago. You should follow along at home, because studiousness is an excellent trait for which to be known.