In my country, Ghana, public transport is made up mainly of privately owned taxis and mini vans. Most of these vehicles carry various inscriptions both on their front and back. One morning, as I drove to work, I happened to be behind a minivan which had this inscription “reputation is like an egg”.
As I looked at it, I kept nodding my head in agreement because one lesson that my mum tried to pump into my head was exactly that! She used to say that our reputation usually precedes us and I have come to agree with her.
Have you ever been introduced by one person to another and as soon as the one introducing you mentions your name the other person goes “Ah! That’s you? I have heard a lot about you”? Well, your reputation surely had preceded you! Any wonder the Bible says “a good name is better than riches”?
Over the years I have come to know that it takes years to build a good reputation but only one moment of misjudgement, one moment of making the wrong decision, one moment of folly to bring it all down. Just like an egg, it takes just one slip to get it broken.
Life is full of men and women who, with just one act, lose the reputations they had taken decades to build. Bill Clinton, Tiger Woods and the former English FA chief Lord Tribesman are just a few that come to mind.
The lesson? It’s quite simple. Watch your ways; watch what you say and what you do. But if the unfortunate happens, then learn these two lessons from Bill Clinton: 1) Do not lie about it; Clinton lied and it did him no good, and 2) Apologise and tell the whole truth; Clinton finally saw that this was the wise thing to do. Most likely many people will understand that like Bill, Tiger and Lord Tribesman, we all are imperfect humans.
But no matter what happens, like damage to an egg’s shell, the damage from slipping up will never go away. There are things you could do to repair some of the damage, though it will be hard for you to be respected as much as you used to be. Do your best not to drop your ‘reputation egg’.
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