Reputation Is Ridiculous, but Important

People just don’t do their homework. I don’t mean that in a snarky way, like “ahh man we’re all sheep.” No, it’s just too mentally stressful to challenge every idea that crosses our path. Life would be so exhausting if we had to evaluate everyone’s opinion, every day.

This is why reputation is a bigger deal than most of us make it out to be. When you’re shooting the breeze with your buddy and someone is mentioned whom you’ve never met before, the next words out of your pal’s mouth are going to shape your opinion of that person for a long time. If they say, “oy, that lady is a real asshole,” she is guilty until proven innocent. That’s just how it works. We can all be summarized, for the most part, in a sentence or two, and far too many careers and relationships have started (or never start) based on little more than that sentence. It’s really in your best interest to be sure yours is alright.

Here’s the really crazy part: To a certain extent, you can create your reputation just by repeatedly saying it out loud. That’s it. I’m amazed at how many people I know who have climbed the career ladder simply by getting into happy hours with leadership personnel and basically saying, “I’m good at my job” over and over again. Even if they aren’t, the rumor mill… it’s vicious and unfair like that. Tell enough people that you’re a star, and you actually might become one. I don’t like how that works any more than you do, but it’s better to not go against the grain on this one, especially if you have the substance to back it up.

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© 2012, Ian Mathias