I’ve never been one to particularly worry about my reputation. Mainly because I never really did anything to put it in jeopardy. It’s kind of like lying – if you don’t do it, you don’t have to worry about who you’ve lied to. When pressed to comment about how someone’s butt looks in their jeans I might veer in to white lie territory, but usually I’ll just withhold comment. Lying is not a skill I wish to develop. Until recently, I only thought about my reputation in terms of what I saw as important. I never thought about the impact it might have on others.
I guess that’s the interesting thing about reputations – they’re a bit subjective. To me, they are based on values and principals that are important to each person. If you value honesty, hard work and integrity, you’ll cultivate that as your rep. If you value being feared and dominating people, well that’s your choice, but that will be your rep. Recent events have had me worried about my rep. Worried that people might see me as associated with values and principals that I wouldn’t cultivate if the desert ran dry and food was scarce. What I didn’t count on was that other people knew my rep. I had managed, through no intention other than being true to what I valued, to build a respected rep. I have to tell you, it’s been truly eye opening.
I’m in a new career. Career number 4 or 5 actually. As much as I loved my last job, I knew I needed a change. In my last job, I had a reputation for being a hard worker who would pitch in where needed, get the job done and make honest mistakes. I had four years to get that reputation and again, by doing nothing other than holding true to my values. This time around, I’ve only had a year to not only learn about two new industries but to find my way in a new career as well. It’s been daunting to say the least as I’ve had no solid mentoring during that time. It had been promised and it had been wanted but lack of action and being over worked interfered. I don’t know about you but when I’m in that kind of situation having someone to give you a bit of guidance can be invaluable as to how you feel you are doing your job and help you progress.
This week my new job in my new career ended. After 15 months of ups, downs and curve balls, by my choice and not by my choice, I’m in the market for new opportunities. That part doesn’t bother me. I know I’ll be fine. But I worried about my reputation. I worried that the people I had formed relationships with over the past year as part of this job wouldn’t even notice I was gone. I’m not some wall flower crying poor me but apparently I do suffer from a marked lack of awareness about my impact on the community around me. While I hold myself to high standards, I’m sure there are someone else’s who are higher and I’m not meeting them. The reaction to my leaving this position has been heart warming, surprising, enlightening and invigorating. I feel re-energized about this new career I’ve chosen and my ability to be successful in it.
So what’s my point? I guess you don’t usually think about your reputation until someone tries to damage it or negatively effect it. And if, like me, you live and work according to the standards and values that are important to you, when you do need to think about it, it’s nice to know it will be there for you. Working hard to ensure that if you need to make a change or find a new job, that you won’t go unnoticed. That the impact on others will be a positive one and there’s no better truth than that.