Our reputations can change at many different points in our lives. Billy, for example, had a reputation of being a difficult child to birth, his mother bragged about his ability to walk at an early age, and eventually he had the reputation among the daycare staff as having the most terrible temperament of all the toddlers.
On the schoolyard Billy was a bully, verbally teasing the other kids. This was a point where he began to have control over his reputation through the words he spoke and his behavior towards others. A change in neighborhoods meant Billy could begin high school with a clean slate. With no one knowing that he was previously a bully, he could rebuild his reputation. Billy had several more opportunities to repair and manage his reputation, like when he started off college, began his career, and joined new communities, along with the times he gained new experiences, and built social and business contacts.
At other moments in time, we no longer have the ability to start over, to have that clean slate; our reputations follow us, they precede us, in good ways or bad. After Billy had been with his company for five years, he had an inappropriate outburst of anger in a confrontation with a co-worker. The situation resulted in Billy’s termination from the company, and unfortunately, when he applied for positions with other companies, tainted his reputation, all due to his own actions and behavior.
In the earlier scenarios of Billy’s life, his reputation was beyond control. In the later examples, his reputation was corrupted and tarnished due to his own lack of reputation management. In our day-to-day lives, we often receive new opportunities to begin rebuilding our reputation. However, we don’t have this same luxury in online formats. Content can be published, including pictures, videos, or commentary focused on us that is permanent in many ways. Once it is published online, in many instances, it becomes impossible to remove or undo.
Your reputation is perpetuated by your own actions, those you have control over and those you don’t. Your reputation is also determined by both yourself and others. If you have a desire to succeed in your business or personal life, it is necessary to manage your reputation in all arenas.