Consistency is how a reputation is built (Untucked Column #7)
I have heard the following statement made many times in numerous settings and each time it makes me cringe a little: “What I love(d) about (insert name) is that they are always the same, no matter what. What you see is what you get.” I want to yell out, “You sit on a throne of lies!” (Ok, maybe not that dramatically but it doesn’t sit well). Why? Because it is simply not true -- it is not true about them, it’s not true about me, and it’s not true about you. We do not have just one reputation – we have as many reputations as we have relationships. What does that mean? For example, your friends may know you as the life of the party and the one who lights up the room everytime you walk in. Your colleagues may describe you as quiet – perhaps because you don’t know them well, don’t trust them, like them, or just have no idea what to say to them. If I interviewed your family, they may describe you in a completely different manner altogether. So. Which one are you?
The truth of the matter is that every single one of them is true – they are all a piece of you but not the whole of you. You probably don’t talk to your boss the same way you talk to your best friend. Where you work may have a professional dress code and one you adhere to but when the weekend comes, its yoga pants and oversized t-shirts. Does that make you fake? No, it doesn’t. Many of us wear many hats in life that require different parts of us. What is most important, though, is that the core of who you are – your character – remains intact regardless of the environment you are in, who you are around, or what outfit you are wearing.
The space between what we say and we do is who we are. Your work may require you to travel and interact with different groups of people but that should not mean your integrity is left at home. Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is looking, knows you, or recognizes you. It is not what you do occasionally that builds a reputation; it’s what you do consistently. Products come with a warning label that reveals what they are made of. People come with one too – it is found in their actions.
Imagine a leaky faucet. Regardless of how hard you twist the knob, it still drips. One drop at a time. Incessantly – drip, drip, drip. The consistency becomes an annoyance pretty quickly. But put in the right environment and given enough time, that same dripping with that same consistency, can have an immense amount of power.
That’s how canyons are made. Not all at once, but through the power of consistency. Dripping isn’t that exciting, but what it lacks in flash it makes up for in effectiveness. There’s a lot to be said for the power of consistency. When you opt for consistency over excitement, you are developing the kind of practices that will carry you through the seasons of dryness all of us will encounter.
We live in a world where we want a reputation without repetition. A true reputation is not built by what you occasionally do, or wish that you were or want people to see you as - it’s not something you project or perfect. Your real reputation comes from relationship and repetition.
We want to be admired by those who really know us. We can fake everybody else out but if the people who are closest to us and know us the most, if they don’t think we’re full of it, then we’re doing something. You don’t need a large number of people to be for you or who really know you.
Yet, how much time do we spend trying to build a reputation with people whose opinions ultimately don’t matter? It is not what people who don’t know you think about you or what you can convince them of that will bring you peace in your heart or mind. If you spend your life trying to get people to like you who have already made up their mind about you based on a rumor, a lie, a version of who you used to be, or someone’s account of you you’ll find yourself engaged in a battle you will never win.
Be more concerned with your character than your reputation. Your character is who you really are. Your reputation is merely what others think of you.