Reputation vs Character: Which do you value more?

“Reputation is what people think of you, Character is what you are.” In this episode, I share my thoughts on me dealing with the duality of how others perceive me and how I want to maintain my own identity. Ultimately we all will have to live with the decisions we make, so which one do you prioritize: the thoughts of others or your own?

  • Here is a perspective on one role I currently occupy: Air Force Officer
    • My Reputation: 
      • A hard-charging leader who sometimes does not wait for everyone prior to taking action.
      • Has the ability to bridge operational and technical worlds…we think.
      • A potential snake oil salesman.
    • My Character:
      • A hard-charging team player that overcomes fear others may have and takes action when no one else will
      • Spends time with others to understand their perspective and finds common goals to work towards
      • A charismatic leader who knows how to connect with any audience.
  • Here is another perspective on a separate role I concurrently occupy with the first role: CrossFit Coach
    • My Reputation:
      • A rebellious voice that may not always follow the established plan to a T.
      • Disruptor of comfortable conversations.
      • Fosters an exclusive environment of Us vs Them.
    • My Character:
      • Freestyle leader that adjusts to the situation yet keeps everyone pointed in the right direction.
      • Provides critical discussion and potential solutions to observed problems.
      • Fosters an inclusive group of like-minded individuals.

In the end, you are the one who will live with the decisions you make, so why value put how others view you count more than yourself? Your reputation is merely a shadow of the person who you really are. Do not let that shadow overtake you. It will follow you no matter where you go, but remember that the light surrounding you, which is directly tied to how you conduct yourself, will minimize the length the shadow covers.

This is not to say that your reputation is completely useless. Your reputation can work to your advantage when you are not there to represent yourself, but it should not be a dominating influence over who you are as a leader. If it becomes too dominant, you are no longer a leader. You are no longer doing the job you were supposed to be doing. Instead, you are a shell of yourself that bends to the slightest wind like a stalk of grass instead of standing strong like a mountain. Influences should just be that, an influence. Remember to be yourself and let your character be defined by the actions you take.

Leaders that are forged through fire are stronger in the end. Those fires can potentially burn brightest in a place you have defense from your mind. You must learn to manage your thoughts and not let them overrule who you truly are and limit your actions. Some of this learning comes from experience, which means you have to expose yourself to these events so you can truly emerge as a better leader. More confident. More sure of yourself. More…YOU.

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