What Is Your Reputation Reppin’?

Editor’s note: I’m always amazed by the wisdom of this young gentleman, Andrew Ballard. It’s not too often a high school student displays this kind of reflection. I look forward to seeing big things from him in the future.

image Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us. Thomas Paine

I used to hate the idea of reputation. After all, since “only God can judge me”, why should I care about what others think of me? I’ve come to realize that my reputation is something that I (and a good many other people) tend to under-appreciate.

Everyone has a reputation. If you’re doing anything differently from others, you’re going to have a reputation that will stand out (whether good or bad). You want to be a “Good Guy”? You’re gonna have a reputation, because Good Guys are leaders. There are tons of followers in the world and a lot of people try putting on the façade of leadership, but they tend to be either negative leaders or followers who simply want attention. If you are genuinely leading, you’re gonna stand out. And it’s a good thing.
So, if you’re leading, a reputation is being constructed for you whether you want it to be or not. If you’re not conscious of it, your reputation will build itself or be built by others for you- and when other people are building your reputation for you, it’s awfully for you to get misrepresented. Why not take control and build your reputation to be an honest reflection of your character? You’ll be amazed by how much a good reputation can help you lead and influence others.
How can you build a reputation? To give a simple answer: by being intentional. Be purposeful in your actions, words, decisions; in everything. Knowing what you’re doing and why you’re doing it (knowing your purpose) is essential to building your reputation. Don’t just live your life aimlessly- search for a purpose to live and work and dream about. Be conscience of what you’re working for and why you’re working for it. A little perspective goes a long way.
If I may paraphrase many, many men much smarter than I:  it takes a lot of time and effort to build a reputation, and only a very little of either to ruin it. You’re human, so you’re gonna mess up, and your reputation is gonna take blows. However, your reputation will recover and grow back stronger if you’ve been intentional about building your reputation rather than letting it be built for you.

A personal example: I do life VERY differently from most people at my school (some of it better, some of it worse). For a long time I cared nothing for reputations, so I unconsciously let mine be built for me. Since I started high school, I’ve changed dramatically in my identity and personality, but I wasn’t intentional about changing my reputation alongside changing myself, and that’s hurt my ability and opportunities to lead in multiple instances.

However, in some other circles, I have been/become very intentional about building my reputation up, and restoring it when it’s muddied though one specific way: whenever there’s been discord between someone and myself, I’ve done my utmost to resolve the issue, regardless of my opinion of the person. It’s turned a few enemies into friends, and it’s shown people that yes, I do mess up and I’m not perfect. But I will always fight to make things right. In conclusion (my English teacher would hate me for using that transition), if there are a few things for you to take away, it’s these:

  1. You have a reputation, whether you like it or not.
  2. A reputation is something not to be ignored, but to be aware of, valued, and utilized.
  3. A good reputation built by many good actions may be ruined by one bad action.
  4. If you are intentional about your actions and amending your mistakes, it will be easier to fix your reputation when it breaks.”

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