This whole saga that I have been going through has brought up a few points that should be discussed. I used to believe (years before I knew this company ever existed), that doing a good job and being a good person were all that mattered. But sometimes, it doesn’t matter how good you were, or how good a job you do, when people look at you, they just don’t like you.
I’m not talking about ugly, I’m talking about what people associate with you. It starts for you now. Everything you do, everything you say, and almost everything you think is being watched. Someone is noticing, and for the most part, nobody cares. What may happen though, is that one person that is watching you right now might be in a position to either hire you or fire you.
In lectures, I’m quick to point out that I am no saint. I’ve done things that I have regretted, as I’m sure everybody does at some point in their life. The actions I’ve made in the past shaped how others perceive me. Once I understood the power of perception, I made a strong effort to do more things that would contribute to a good reputation and diminish any bad reputation I had.
With this current series of events at work, part of what pisses me off the most is that my reputation has been smeared by someone for no reason. It doesn’t even matter what is true and what isn’t anymore, the damage is done. Management looks at me with a measuring look that they didn’t use before. Colleagues do that inquisitive head-tilt that illustrates that I have failed them in some way. Customers who know, look at me as if they are unsure our relationship will be the same, or if I’ll even stick around for them to find out.
For FIFTEEN years, I have worked to build my name so that employers, competitors, and customers would feel confident that they were getting the best. Not to be dramatic, but that took a huge hit last week for, again, no reason. Don’t get me wrong, I know that in the grand-scheme, this isn’t even a blip on the radar of my reputation. It’s not about that. I know that probably 98% of the people who know me or know of me haven’t changed their perception of me over this. But the two percent that is left, that bothers me.
So, for you, what can you do to make sure you build a strong reputation? First, you have to decide what you want your reputation to be. I’m sure that Mike Tyson is okay with a reputation of a crazy S.O.B that will eat you if you fight him. I don’t think that would go over nearly as well for Maya Angelou. Once you have decided your reputation, you need to work towards it. Start today. Don’t think that because you may still be in high school or college that what you do doesn’t count. It most certainly does count. Remember, the people watching you today may be able to hire you or fire you. Or, they may be able to influence the person who does hire you (or fire you). Either way, your success is in their hands.