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. 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. In fact, most humans decide what they think of you from what others tell them. Do you think most of the chatter about you is factual even among your friends? Think again. Most chatter about you is not unlike most of your chatter about your neighbor – gossip.
Stop talking about your friends, neighbors, and coworkers. Start working on your character. Be who you are. Do what you say you’re gonna do. Hard on self without getting down on self, remember. Don’t go dark and don’t be so damn self delusional. Work on you.
In this work I help clients every week close integrity gaps. The higher their perch, 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 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, friend. 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.” What does this mean? Simple. When you screw up, own it, don’t hide it. Repair with those you’ve damaged along the way. Take responsibility and learn. On the other hand, when you do something virtuous, keep it to yourself, keep it a secret – hold onto it. Goodness grows when you keep the good stuff in. Simple and so hard.
You control your character. Others will mostly decide what they think of you based on second hand knowledge (more gossip than fact), not so much on their deep dive inside of you. Fact. So, friend, focus within. Change you. Character counts. 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. I’m miles from the mark but it’s a worthy aim, at least in my mind. 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. Gossip and lies enslave. Truth sets us free.
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. God, help me keep my second hand thinking about others to myself, live in the light, and refuse to get down and go dark. God, help me model the way, embrace acute pain, and know the difference between gossip and truth. God, help me to live out my favorite mantra – Keep working. Keep working. Keep working. Good.
God, help me…