Saturday, December 1, 2012


A reputation is one of the most important things a person owns, and while intangible, can play a major role in influencing the happenings in a person's life.  Reputations are built up over time based with past performance or actions playing the most vital role in the formation of a reputation.  The most accurate reputations are the ones that have formed over an extended period of time as the result of many different actions, whether they be good or bad.  However, one of the most important characteristics of reputations is how fragile they can be.  While this is true much more so with good reputations than bad ones, one mistake can ruin a person's reputation forever.  With that said, it generally comes out after the fact that the individual can has had similar transgressions in the past that remained private and a track record of poor decisions or performance can uncovered.  A perfect example of this is the reputation of former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.  For almost all of his life, Paterno was held in the highest esteem by the American public for his values and good deeds, as well the fact that he was an exceptional football coach.  However, after his former assistant Jerry Sandusky had been arrested on child molestation charges, it was uncovered that Coach Paterno had helped try to cover up Sandusky's horrible actions.  As soon as the cover-up became public knowledge, all of Paterno's good work in his career had become completely overshadowed and tarnished.  As more details unfolded, it turned out that the cover-up had gone on much longer and was much more detailed than people thought.  While it only took one mistake to completely damage Paterno's reputation, looking back a precedent had been set earlier in his career for acting in this manner.

As far as my own personal life, one place where I greatly value my reputation and I like to think that it is fairly strong, is with my family.  While my reputation has been built up over many years, I am aware that one mistake could unfortunately change it entirely.  I have a reputation within my family of being very dependable and reliable.  This came from years of completing any action that I said that I would do, and stepping up, whenever possible, to help or do a favor.  I know that my family members have great confidence in me to fulfill their expectations if they ask me to complete a task.

The one time I "cashed in" on my reputation was when my parents went away for a weekend and left me at my house to take care of my dogs and stay at the house for the weekend.  My parents expected that I would essentially treat the house in the same way as if they were still there based on my reputation of being dependable.  Instead, I took advantage of the opportunity and had some friends over at my house when this would not have been okay with my parents had they known of this.  Unfortunately, when my parents returned from their trip, they realized that I had had people at our house and were very disappointed in me. My reputation certainly took a hit at the time, but I was able to recover partially based on the goodwill I had built up in the past, and future acts of reliability I demonstrated in the future.

1 comment:

  1. You're the first one to bring up a famous persona for the prompt. The public's impression of a famous person is typically based on less than full information and the image is marketed; Tiger Woods is another example. That marketing might have a lot of hype and not much reality is understood ahead of time, but we tend to forget it until something bad becomes publicly known.

    I don't agree with you that one mistake can wreck it a good reputation, but it clearly depends on how egregious the mistake was and what one does after to correct it. Being involved in a cover up typically is worse than committing an error but owning up to it afterward. That is why I've talked about a policy of "No Surprises" as good management.

    I made a horrible mistake in college and loaned a car I shared with my brother to my brother's roommate. (After the fact my brother said he wouldn't have done it.) He got into an accident and my dad was furious, especially since the roommate didn't have the funds to pay for the repairs. So my dad was angry at me for a while, but that didn't last. We were on very good terms for most of the rest of his life.