Most humans are laser focused on reputation. We think long and hard about how others perceive us and invest countless hours looking good. This is a misplaced focus that ties back to mental health 101. Reputation is not character. Reputation is how others see you. You cannot control how others see you. Others see you the way they want to and with all the baggage that comes with having seen “your type,” previously. Focus on your reputation and you’ll eventually go nuts. There will always be those that see you as less or more than they ought.
The character you need to focus on is your own. You alone own your integrity. Your character is who you are when no one sees, you see. Your character comes with it’s own impurities, it’s own imperfections, and it’s own gaps to fill. Filling your integrity gaps is what makes you whole. You and I will always have repairing to do on our road to becoming whole, to becoming ONE, if you will. You and I will always be under construction if our aim is a more virtuous, whole self. Good.
In this work I help clients each and every week close their own integrity gaps. The higher they are in their system the more these gaps are exposed. When you’re on top, everybody has a vantage point. The leaders integrity gaps grow in the sight of those below as time passes and the leader refuses to humbly come down from their perch and repair. Most leaders avoid confronting their integrity gaps head on and hope that folks below will stop staring and making it worse. This is nuts. Again, think about how long we’ve been talking about Tiger. Humans love to assasinate anothers character, especially the ones on top.
Leaders, the kind worth following, are focused on their character. Good. As Os Guinness challenges us, these leaders “keep the right secrets.” When a mistake is made, don’t hide it. Instead, broadcast it and admit your failure. Repair with those you’ve damaged along the way. Take responsibility and learn. And, when you do something virtuous, keep it to yourself, keep it a secret – hold onto it. This is how your character grows. You control your character. Others will mostly decide what they think of you based on second hand knowledge, remember, not so much on their deep dive inside of you. Let go of control, here. Focus within. Change you. Character counts. And, as we discussed last night among a team of friends, we humans are natural imitators. We need role models and good examples to emulate. Choose wisely here. The only character I’m aiming at is the character of Jesus. His character was defined by three primary principles:
Model the way. Jesus’ most frequent command was “follow me.”
Embrace pain and suffering. He lived and died by this.
Embody truth in LOVE.
God, help me keep the right secrets. God, help me aim at your character, not get bummed by my flaws, accept your Grace, and get busy working on me. Keep working. Keep working. Keep working. Good.
God, help me…