Reputation vs. Character – Do You Care Who Wins?
Four Revealing Ways You Care More About Your Reputation Than Your Character
Jason had a great reputation. He was charismatic, well liked, and excellent at his job. But he was living a double life. He was not faithful to his wife and not living up to the values that he said he actually held.
His reputation was everything. When his world began to unravel, the first thing he cared about is what everyone knew and what they thought of him. The last thing on his mind was the demise of his character.
Reputation vs. Character – Do you care you wins this fight?
How often do you hear the following?
- His reputation took a hit
- She has a reputation as…
- I’ll put my reputation on the line and say…
Your reputation is important. But when it becomes MORE important than your character, you’re entering some choppy waters, my friend. And often the discovery comes well after the fact.
I absolutely love this quote by Hall of Fame UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden:
“Be more concerned with your Character than your Reputation because your Character is what you really are where your Reputation is merely what others think of you”.
Coach Wooden spent more time in his pursuit of creating men of character than just a winning basketball program. And ironically, he did both.[tweetthis] Character is one of those difficult and challenging words to define yet when someone doesn’t have character, you know it immediately.[/tweetthis]
I travel an absolute ton and often I meet someone who “appears” to be one person but over time and the more I get to know them (the blessing or curse of being a question asker) their character comes out.
Sometimes it comes out and is a light shade of gray. “Did she just say what I think she said or meant it that way?”
Other times it comes out and is a charcoal shade of gray. “Hey man, let’s hit the club and I don’t mean health club. We’re on the road and our wives will never know. It’s not like I’m having an affair or anything.”
Little did they know the original reputation of what they thought they were, changed with me to a completely different reputation of which ultimately revealed their character.
Here are 4 Revealing Ways You Care More about your Reputation than your Character:
1. You base your decision first on what others would say or think
When your 1st impulse is how others would react, this is a reputation play, not character.
It should also be an obvious indicator that your reputation is a bigger deal to you than you even realize.
It’s also the first of four steps that lead down a slippery slope of being consumed with your reputation far more than your character. But wait, there’s more…
2. You feel you need to justify your actions to others
So you make a decision and if you feel it is in question, you immediately need to let EVERYONE know WHY you made the decision.
Wondering what someone thinks is one thing. But when you start to “sell them” on why you made the decision, this is something completely different.
This should be a warning sign that your impulse to justify that decision is leading you further down a dangerous path and is easily leading you to the next step…
3. You defend yourself more than what is right
Further down this path of guarding your reputation at all costs you begin to switch your focus.[tweetthis]When your defense immediately defaults to you and not truth, then your reputation is FAR more important than you probably even realize. [/tweetthis]
My wife and I are in the process of teaching our kids to “always do the right thing, not just the easy thing”. But this is SO much easier said than done and so much more as the stakes are higher as an adult.
But reputation rears its selfish head when what is right is lost for who is in question.
4. You would do absolutely anything to preserve your reputation
If you find yourself going to great lengths to keep your reputation in tact, you are far down the path of losing your character.
It may begin with shading the truth and could end up in full on lies to keep your coveted reputation in tact.
This is a slippery slope because you could ultimately compromise your values just to please others.
This is a progression from #1 to #4. It’s a downward spiral that will erode your character over time.
And you will begin to gain momentum the further down the spiral which will make it incredibly difficult to stop the train. Be careful.
In the End…
Reputation is important and should be guarded. But the moral of the story is character is MORE important than your reputation alone.
Take care of your character and your reputation will take care of itself. Rarely it’s the other way around.
Motivated, busy professional who want to escape their average need to, at some point, make the shift from caring more about their character than their reputation.
But this takes two things: maturity and growth.
I encourage and even challenge you to see which of the four revealing ways and see where you are in the process.
Do you personally care more about your character or your reputation?