A reputation is a funny thing but 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. You generally have a good opinion about someone because someone else has told you they have a good reputation. Where did they form that opinion or were they told as well?
It all seems to be a bit subjective, and likely to vary depending on who you speak to.
How does anyone decide upon my reputation?
I have the values by which I live my life. There are some things I am happy about and other things I could probably do better (just ask Helen!) I expect you are just the same. I steer my course through life and inevitably other people will have opinions about that. It is only human to form opinions about everyone around us. First impressions are formed within seconds of meeting someone and into the mix go all those prejudices that we learnt as we were growing up, even though we tell ourselves we are being objective. So, how much credence should we give to these opinions?
We deal with our challenges in our own way. We make the calls. We all make so many decisions every day, some large and some small, and at the end of that day we have laid down one more day in the history of our lives. Is this the origin of our reputations. But who knows all the facts?
At the end of a 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 should choose to live and how I should make future decisions?
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. If what I do is not illegal and does not offend any of the norms of our society, why should I be concerned about the opinions of someone else, considering that in most cases, I have not and will never meet them.
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.
So, what’s the point I am making? I make decisions based upon my own experiences. I accept that sometimes I will be right and other times I will be wrong and need to change course. Hopefully, I have now learned enough to make some better, more informed decisions.
However, should I also be considering the effect on other peoples’ perception of me. If I was a politician, maybe, but I am not. We have a business to run and family, staff and others who depend upon us running that business properly and profitably. If we want to be really popular, we will reduce our prices by 50% or more, but we would be letting down those who depend upon us.
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.
If you want to carry on this discussion, please get in touch.
Alan E Long
The Long Partnership