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Is your opinion of me any of my business?

A reputation is a funny thing. What is a reputation?

It seems to me that a reputation is merely another person’s opinion about you, your character and abilities. It is just an opinion, probably based on incomplete information and coloured by personal bias and prejudices. It seems to me that you often have a good opinion about a person’s reputation, because someone else has told you that they had a good reputation. Where did they form that opinion?

It all seems to be a bit subjective, and likely to vary depending on who you speak to.

How does anyone sum up my reputation?

I have the values by which I live my life. There are some things I am happy about and other things I am sure I could have done better. I expect you are just the same. I steer my course through life and inevitably other people will have opinions about my professional work, my personal life, my personality, the way I dress etc. It is only human to form opinions about someone when we meet and interact with them. First impressions are formed within seconds of meeting someone and into the mix we must add all those prejudices that we learnt as we were growing up, and about which we might feel guilty for the rest of our lives.

Every day we make decisions, some large and some small. At the end of that day we have laid down one more day in the history of our life. Every day we deal with challenges in our own way and move on. We make the calls.

I live my life. I make my own decisions, I choose who I will consult before making my decisions, if I consult anyone at all. It is inevitable that there is at least one other person whose views on any subject are important to me and who needs to share in the decision that affect both of us. She is my wife and business partner. Do we therefore have a joint reputation in that case?

But at the end of any day I have lived that day, that week or that year on my terms and generally I am reasonably happy with the outcome. So what business is it of mine, what you or anyone else thinks or doesn’t think about me and what I have done. What relevance does it have to the way I choose to live?

Having said that, I think that most people would accept that we pay attention to the “norms” and the generally accepted behavioural principles in the society in which we choose to live, but even here we may each interpret these differently. As long as what I do is legal and does not offend any of the norms of our society, if I am happy, why should I be concerned at the opinion you have formed of me.

I am sure that if I went around asking people what they thought of me, I would get a multitude of different answers which are all subjective and based upon incomplete data.

There is only one person who even comes close to having complete data and that is because I have lived with her for so long and we have shared so many experiences together, both good and bad. She has that deeper understanding and so knows where my opinions and decisions come from.

Apart from her, there is no-one’s opinion that should have any relevance to me and so it is really none of my business what people think. That is their opinion, and it is for them to do with that whatever they want.

So, what’s the point I am making?  I make decisions based upon my own experiences. Hopefully, I have now learned enough to make some wise choices. Should I also be considering the effect on my reputation as held by certain people? That in itself would lead to incorrect judgements because pleasing other people and making the right choice on the facts may be incompatible.

My conclusion is that I need to make decisions that seem right to me and so not taking into account other people’s subjective judgements. These are irrelevant and basically, none of my business.

This is particularly important when making decisions about the future development of our business. Here, we need to use sound judgement and the cold hard facts as we see them. These decisions are too important to let them be clouded by other people’s subjective judgements of us.

What do you think?

Alan Long

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