I was that guy – the guy who dropped the ball. And here’s what I am doing about it.
You have had days like this, I’m sure. Days when you say yes and you should have said no. I had a day like that where I was asked to manage a website.Something inside of me screamed No! But I ignored it. At least I should have spoke up and asked for more help than “you can find tutorials on the internet.”
I figured it would be easy. Man, was I wrong.
It began innocently, with a few promises that I would figure it out in a week or two. Then I procrastinated and a month went by. Then the procrastination turned into excuses. After two months, people were mad. I didn’t do what I said I would do. The details are not important, just that people relied on me and I let them down.
I eventually figured out how to fix the website. Turns out, it was easier than I made it out to be. Fixing the damage I had done to my relationships has been much harder.
Make your habits or your habits will make you
Habits like procrastination, making excuses, not doing what you say you will do can damage your reputation. Realizing this made me stop in my tracks. At what point do we make a reputation and when does our reputation begin to make us? Probably as soon as we get out of bed. Each of our choices can add up to create a reputation.
Reputation is different than worrying what people think about you. Reputation is more global and has more to do with your character. Worrying what people think about you, has to more to do with popularity. Character lasts, but popularity is gone as fast as Donald Trump’s can open his mouth.
Reputation is like air: You don’t think about it much until it is slipping away. Then you realize how important it is. The sobering thing about a reputation is it is something that you have to live up to, good or bad. Our words and our choices set us up to aspire to something, or resist it.
It hit me that simple things like words and choices, sticks and stones, can create a destiny. Words and choices are like a container. If we are not intentional, we will fill our lives with things that crumble over time.
Character needs daily deposits, not lump sums
I made a list of things that you and I have to live up to:
- Our past, our families belief in us and our history with them
- Our neighborhood
- The gifts we are born with
- Our reputation (both good and bad)
- Our dreams
- Our commitments and promises
- Our friendships
- The way that we talk to, and how we treat ourselves (good and bad)
It struck me that you and I can focus on what we can’t change: our gifts, our family, our past, where we live, what other people think about us. Or we can look at what we can change: what we say we will do, our choices and who we allow to influence us.
Fixing a reputation begins with the sticks and stones of life: Your words and your choices. And I’m still working at it. Character is like a bank account that requires daily deposits rather than lump sum payments. It’s easy to fake it one day a year and be a hero. It’s difficult to show up every day. But that’s character.
At the Good Men Project, we are the tribe that wants to help you to build a container that stands the tests that life throws your way. We are having the conversation that no one else is having. Join us.