3 Tips to Preserve Your (Precious) Reputation

 What is a prized possession you can never get back once you lose it?

The answer is your reputation.

At some point in your life, your values will be challenged and possibly even ridiculed by others. It’s crucial to talk about this now, with the beginning of the college school year upon us. Why? It’s especially common in the years after high to face situations that test your values, integrity, and ability to stand up to peer pressure. It can be a difficult time for many young people with all of this newfound independence (and adversity!).

Will you have the moral courage to withstand the pressure and take the high ground, even if it means you may lose an opportunity or a friendship in the process?

 I was fortunate to have worked with George Russell, the Chairman Emeritus of Russell Investments. He always took pride in saying, “Our company operates with non-negotiable integrity.” He meant it. George always said, “If you’re wondering whether or not to do something, ask how you would feel if it became tomorrow’s headline in the New York Times. Enough said.

Sadly, you can see how poor choices have destroyed the reputations and lives of countless people in the sports, entertainment, political, and business world. Since many of them were heroes to impressionable kids, their missteps have even greater consequence. Unfortunately, we’ve all seen how the loss of trust and respect can ruin lives and relationships.  That’s why I came up with this list that we can apply to our own lives and reputations. Here are three tips to help you hold on to your values and keep your reputation upstanding:

  1. Avoid the “gray area.” It can be tempting to take shortcuts. We’ve all been there. But if you are not 100 percent positive that something is right, ethical, or in line with your values…then just don’t do it.
  2. Surround yourself with people that uplift you, understand you, and make you want to be your best self. If you find yourself comparing, striving, and doing things out of the ordinary in order to fit in, then they probably aren’t “your people.”
  3. Always tell the truth—even white lies can be detrimental to your reputation. It may sound cliché, but honesty is ALWAYS the best policy.

No matter what you do, preserve your integrity, values, and reputation with every ounce of strength you can muster. You will absolutely, positively, and totally regret it if you don’t!

How have you handled situations where you were asked or tempted to compromise your integrity?  Have you shared the story with the young people in your life? Your positive example will encourage them in their own struggles, especially as they embark into adulthood and life after high school.

Leadership for a Lifetime: Brand

The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.

~Socrates

What do Google, Apple, Facebook, Disney, Nike, McDonalds, BMW, Coca Cola, Lego, Coach, Harley Davidson, and you have in common? The answer is your own brand. That’s right—your brand! Chances are you don’t think of yourself in this way, but hear me out.

If you Google the term “brand,” you’ll see descriptions such as:

  • what you stand for
  • the representation, identity, or image of you or your organization
  • what differentiates you
  • how you are uniquely perceived by others

I like to think of it as a composite of qualities and values that represent your unique identity and value proposition. Now the parallels make more sense, don’t they?

Businesses go to great lengths to build their brand and reputation. In fact, they treat theirs as a prized possession! They invest massive amounts in developing quality products and services that are both consistent and appealing to customers. They train their employees to represent their core values and high standards in the marketplace. And, they promote their brands through carefully crafted advertising and PR. There’s no better way to build a loyal customer base than having an appealing brand.

Great leaders invest in their own brand, too—both personally and professionally. People who are brand aware view themselves as an asset to offer this world and demonstrate high standards both on and off the court. They are regarded not only for their impact but also for the effect they have on others.

In our conversations with teens and young adults, we stress the importance of building a great brand through an “excellence in everything” mindset. But, in a world that is increasingly shying away from the concept of universal values, what does that look like? To facilitate conversations and self assessments, I encourage students to develop their “Values GPA” by grading themselves on several personal and professional quality indicators. It’s a great way of building their “values vocabulary” and identifying their brand strengths and areas for growth.

Here’s a great way to put this into action. Following is a categorized list of brand-related qualities for your students/children/mentees to evaluate. It can also make for a fun family exercise with opportunities for feedback.

Professional Brand Qualities

Here are my top ten brand qualities of a workplace MVP (link to blog: http://www.dennistrittin.com/view_blog.aspx?blog_id=132 ): high standards, integrity, reliability, relationally skilled, positivity, enthusiasm, motivation, innovation, resilience, and likeability. 

Personal Brand Qualities

At a personal level, the components of our brand are similarly multi-faceted. Consider which of the following qualities you/your students/your children model well and which could benefit from improvement:
Heart Related: kindness, sincerity, compassion, friendliness, helpfulness, generosity, empathy, patience, unselfishness

Integrity Related: honesty, trustworthiness, honor, respect, loyalty, courtesy, tact, obedience, courage, self discipline, authenticity

Personal Nature Related: cheerfulness, self confidence, positivity, enthusiasm, active, sociability, good-humored, stability, expressiveness, politeness, cooperativeness

Productivity Related: reliability, high standards, purposeful, disciplined, resourcefulness, ambition, motivation, strong work ethic, decisiveness, conscientiousness, responsibility, curiosity, objectivity

Spirituality Related: faith, gratefulness, perseverance, resilience, grace, dignity, modesty, humility

 

Your personal brand is a prized possession and one of the most important leadership pillars to nurture and grow. How would you describe yours?

Don’t Make Promises You Can’t Keep

Imagine you see two movies (if you can find two movies worth seeing!).  The critic in you rates them each four out of five stars. Prior to going, you expected the first one to rate three stars and the second one a perfect five.

            Did you experience the same level of satisfaction from both movies?

 

            Interestingly, probably not!

            If you’re like most people, you left more satisfied after the first one. That’s because it turned out better than you expected. In contrast, you were probably a little disappointed with the second one because it wasn’t as great as you thought it would be.

            This illustration demonstrates the importance that expectations play in our lives. The greater the expectations, the greater the risk of disappointment. It also explains why it’s so important to keep your promises. After all, if someone promises you something, you’re entitled to expect they’ll deliver on their word.

            Some people habitually overpromise and underdeliver. They promise the moon because they aim to please. They say what people want to hear and feed off of their enthusiasm. However, all they do is create false hope when they can’t deliver on their promises. After a few of these incidents, people will figure them out as manipulators. Their credibility is lost forever.

           

            When we don’t keep a promise to someone, it messages that we don’t value or respect them. Rather, we valued something else more highly than our commitment. We communicate to others that they cannot count on us. This takes a heavy toll on our relationships—personally and professionally.

 

            If anything, it pays to underpromise and overdeliver. By doing so, you’ll pleasantly surprise others by exceeding their expectations. Here are some ideas for what that can look like:

·                            In your own mind, honestly appraise what you’re willing and realistically able to do for them.

  •  Allow yourself a “fudge factor” – estimate a slightly longer delivery time, slightly higher cost, slightly lower quality, etc.

 

  • If the project takes longer or costs more, you’ll still be able to come close to your original estimate. And if you’re able to deliver under your original estimate, you look like a hero!

           

            Do yourself and others a big favor. Either deliver on your promises or don’t make them in the first place. It’s a hallmark of integrity!

                                                         

Have you observed how others have reacted when you failed to deliver on your promises? Why should this be a part of how we train our young people? Do you have any experiences with this lesson?  We’d love to hear from you!