A reputation is the view that someone else has about you. You have a personal reputation that is separate from your professional reputation. One may be better than the other, they may be equally great or they may both need some work. You may have an amazing personal life with an abundance of supportive family and friends and a successful professional life with a growing and challenging career and a thriving network of contacts around the world, but the one thing that can change everything and snatch this all away from you is when you damage your reputation.
Your reputation should be as important to you as the most expensive items that you put your money into like: cars, homes, businesses or luxuries such as art, travel, wine and antiques. To keep your reputation in great condition and working for you as it should, it requires the same consistent actions as your most important investments: building, maintaining and restoring.
In your personal life, you begin to build the foundation of your reputation from a young age when you make friends in school, in your neighbourhood and through volunteer and extracurricular activities. These may be friends that you have for life and, even if you lost have touch with them somewhere along the way, it is now easy to reconnect with them or they with you through social media. Once you finish high school and choose to enter the working world or continue in post-secondary education, you have to build a new personal reputation as a mature and responsible adult. This reputation requires constant maintenance and, if you do some things that you are not proud of, then you will have some work to do to restore your reputation among your family and friends.
Your first paid or volunteer job, whatever your age, is when you begin to build the foundation of your professional reputation. Once you finish your education and start working as an employee in an organization, running your own business or as an associate in a professional firm, it is important to put your best foot forward and construct a stellar reputation right from the start. Even if everything does not go according to plan and you make some mistakes that tarnish your professional reputation early in your career, there are opportunities to restore it to its former glory. Reinvention of yourself and your reputation are always possible when you take on a new role, get a new boss, move to another organization, get a new client or join another professional firm. Moving cities or countries is also a great way to rebuild and restore your reputation. Restoring your reputation requires that you learn from your mistakes, avoid repeating them and leave your unwanted and unproductive baggage behind.
As you travel through your professional life and become increasingly successful, the work, the roles, the colleagues and the organizations will come and go and all you really have is your reputation. So it is important to build it, maintain it and restore it with the care and commitment that it deserves. You can have all the family, all the friends, all the money and all the stuff in the world, but if you have a lousy reputation, you will eventually lose everything and be alone wondering how it all went so wrong.
So when you have 10 minutes sometime today, take a step back and see yourself as others see you in your personal and professional lives. If you asked five people in each of these lives their views on you, what would they say? If they honestly provide positive feedback, express your gratitude to them and feel fortunate that you have an enviable reputation that you are probably constantly building, maintaining and restoring. If they honestly provide constructive feedback, then express your gratitude and recognize that you have to make more of an effort to build, maintain and restore your reputation. What are you waiting for? Start doing the work today. Like the expensive cars, homes, businesses and luxuries that you value and that surround you, your reputation is something that you should invest in each and every day.