“Men’s evil manners live in brass; their virtues we write in water.”
—William Shakespeare, Henry VIII, Act 4, Scene 2
What does it take to build a good reputation? How many virtuous and noble efforts, and what length of time is required to justify recognition?
Conversely, what does it take to build a bad reputation, or to undermine or destroy a good one? How many evil, questionable, or carelessly conceived actions does it take to wipe a slate clear and enter negative territory?
Who do you know that has been permanently labeled or continues to be judged for behaviors from the past where those around them are unable to forget or forgive?
What attitude adjustments might be worth considering regarding the virtues and shortcomings of others? How would you like others to view you on these matters?
“Live in such a way that if someone spoke badly of you, no one would believe it.”
Image from thestar.com
During the very early stages of a new coaching relationship, I often give my clients the assignment to describe their best future self. This exercise forces each individual to look deeply at the qualities and characteristics they wish to develop and expand upon during the course of our relationship and beyond.
We employ a strategy in which they examine past and current role models they admire and respect, knowing that if others could act and achieve such remarkable things, it is possible for them as well.
Upon your passing, what would you like others in your personal and professional worlds to say about you?
What adjustment will you make in the way you live today to guarantee this as your legacy?
“Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”
– Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States
Who are you and how do you behave when no one is watching? Are your values expressed in your deeds at all times, or only when you are on display for others to see?
Golf is a sport of great character, where the participants actually call penalties on themselves, even when their playing partners rarely, if ever, see these penalties.
What are your daily standards for living a life of honor and integrity? To what values do you hold true, so that you always live in this manner, regardless of whether an audience is there to observe?
What changes will you make to focus on your character, rather than your reputation?