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"It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to lose it. When you realize that, you'll do things differently." -unknown-

If you could go back to your late teens or early 20s, what would you change? We all wish we could transport back and change something we said or something we did.  During our late teens and early 20's most of us were trying to figure out our lives. We were trying to figure out the world. In the meantime, a majority of people this age do things in their life that they do not believe will hinder their future.  We have all done or said something that we wish we could take back.  I often look back at my late high school and early college years and wish I could go back and change some of the decisions I made.  We do not ever think about how our decisions during this time frame might come back to "haunt" us in our present lives.  When we are young we rarely think about how the decisions we made when we were young might effect our spouses, kids, family, etc.  Many of our decisions will stick with us for a lifetime.

While we are young, we encounter a variety of people.  The people we meet and spend time with define our reputation via our behaviors.  As young people we work hard to find our way, be accepted, create relationships,etc., but we often go about it in a negative way.  We may not realize that we have built a reputation that people talk about and view.  Even if success is found, people will still talk about your past.  I spent my years as a young person trying to impress people with humor.  I did a lot of stupid things that will most likely stick with me forever. I never thought about how my actions might effect my future.  I now own a business. My reputation is on the line each day and I am trying to build a positive reputation in the business world.  Little did I know, that my past actions built me a reputation that some might not see as favorable.  My past and/or current actions may hinder my future with some prospective business people.


1. People will not forget your flaws  It is often that when we do something poorly it will catch more attention than when we do something great.  People are quick to jump to the flaws people have and the mistakes we have made rather than focusing on the good qualities we have. As a result, when we make a poor decision people will most likely remember that before they remember the 10 great things you did.  I have done, what I consider, a lot of good things, but it is rare that I am addressed for those before I am addressed about the mistakes or blunders in my life.  We have all had the conversation that goes something like this: "He has done very well for himself."      "True, but he used to......" "That is true! I am surprised he made it this far." The conversation might not be verbatim, but we have all had something similar.  Point is, people will acknowledge your success, but analyze your mistakes.   

2. Your reputation is what people say it is.  When you hear something once, it might be true. Hear it again, it is probable. Hear it three times, it is most likely accurate.  When people talk about you, how do you want that conversation to go? It is obvious we cannot please everyone. I am not saying you should do things to appease the people around you, or go out of your way to impress people. I am not saying you should "brown nose."  I am saying that people talk and one of the most common conversations is other people.  When people speak of you, what do you want it to sound like?  It is important to be ourselves and do what makes us happy, but we should also keep in mind how our actions might translate to the rest of our family and friends in the future.

3. Negative actions Our actions in front of others will define us.  Most of us watch sports, TV, or some form of media. When we see others in action, we are quick to make a judgement. Those judgements are forming your reputation.  We shouldn't always agree with what others think of us, but our actions are where people get those perceptions of us. One bad action might ruin years of a positive reputation we have had.  For example, Cam Newton might end up being one of the best players to play in the NFL. He is active in the community and has a passion for helping kids, but the media destroys him because he walked out of a press conference. One decision, that may have been a poor one, will brand him as a whiner for the rest of his career.   People will always remember your negative actions. 4. A slip of the foot you may soon recover, but a slip of the tongue you may never get over. We have all said something we wish we could take back, but once we say it it can't be undone.  I have conversations that haunt me because of something I let slip or said.  We should never hold back our true feelings, but we should be careful how we state it or word it.  Taking the time to think before you speak is something you will never regret.  Be genuine with your words and thoughtful with your phrases and people will respect you even if they don't agree with you.  What you say will define you as a person for years to come and you never know when the person you spoke ill of will control your future. Your reputation is not built in one day, but over several years of proving yourself as a genuine person. The choices you make when you're young will help define your adult life. You have to earn people's trust.  Your decisions will not only affect you but also your family.

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