Reputation Matters

It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently. 

~ Warren Buffet

I've been thinking a lot reputation recently and why it matters. We all have one. Some of our reputation is outside of our control, but there's a lot of what other people think about it that's worth considering and paying attention to more than we do. If perception is reality, what's really going on with what others think about you?

Several months ago, I exchanged a series of emails with a colleague who lives across the country. We don't talk very often but we were exchanging some ideas and I was asking for some help. In one exchange my friend said,

"Always so great to hear from you. 
Seriously everyone who knows you, loves you."

Honestly, I was taken a back, incredibly encouraged, and felt exposed all at the same time. People talk about me? Of course they do. And what those people have said to me is a really great thing? Wow. Now, I'm under no false illusion that everyone I know loves me, but it has caused me to think deeply over these several months since that email about how reputation matters, especially in our technological world. We are all just a couple degrees of separation from each other. We are all connected. 

I work with leaders across the country every day in coaching and staffing, and it never ceases to amaze me how the conversation will oftentimes find itself talking about their acquired reputation. One doesn't stumble into their reputation, it's built over time but also can be destroyed in an instant. Your reputation deeply impacts your ability to get (and keep!) a job, build trust in your important relationships, grow your influence, and simply be an integrity-filled person! Your reputation matters.

Here are 3 guiding questions that could help you build a reputation that's consistent and integrated to who you really are.

1. Have you burned any bridges?

I have not always done this perfectly, but in the last several years I've worked really hard not to burn bridges with anyone. I've been surprised time and again with how relationships ebb and flow and how often we circle back with one another. Romans 12:18 challenges me, "Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone." I disagree with folks all the time. But especially in our current cultural climate, the ability to respectfully disagree and do whatever you can to build peace is an increasingly important art.

There's also the reality that people change. We change our mind. We change our opinions, philosophies, and perspectives. I've changed quite a bit in the last 2 years. Those that hurt me a few years ago probably have to. So when the tendency is to give someone a piece of my mind, mind may change in a couple years and now that relationship is broken. Restraint can be your best friend.

When you've burned bridges, go rebuild them (unless abuse is a part of that story). One young leader I'm currently coaching realized she's said some things that she wishes she said differently. So she wrote a letter to that person confessing her immaturity and sin against them and asked for their forgiveness. Her reputation is being rebuilt with that person because of her humility.

2. How do you talk about others?

My friend, Todd Clark, has said, "you never show me more about your character than when you're describing another". Whoa. How do you talk about people that you disagree with? People that hurt you? Those who've betrayed or harmed you? How do you speak about those who do things differently than you or have different values? 

Our words matter and have weight. Your reputation is cultivated as you talk about another person behind their back. What is it that you actually want to say?

3. Do your actions and words match up with one another? 

This is a core integrity question. Years ago Bill Hybels wrote a book entitled, Who You Are When No One is Looking. While the answer to that question is critical for everyone, it is imperative for leaders and those with public platforms. We don't need to search hard for lists of leaders who's words and behaviors have caused their demise. In fact, we tend to find it remarkable when a leader maintains the ability to live an integrated life. This should not be so. 

Our reputation must reflect who we really are, not who we are faking to be. Time and truth walk hand in hand, friends. It's only a matter of time until your reputation matches who you really are.

My deep prayer is that my reputation always matches who I really am and who I am becoming. You too? May we be the kinds of people this year (and beyond) who are becoming who we've been created to be. And may that be reflected in our reputation to the world.

Peace and Love.

How Can I Add Value to You This Year?

We are officially into 2017. Let's make the most of it! Last year was rough for a bunch of us, but this is a new year. New hope. New promise. New possibliites. But we won't realize any of those by accident. It takes specific decisions and actions to actually make the progress we all want in our life. 

I'm so very much looking forward to adding as much value as I can to this world. I'm more committed than ever to using my gifts, training, background, and (com)passions to make this world a better place.  

I've been taking some time to assess my best contributions through training, speaking, and coaching and I'm excited to see how I can add value to your life, leadership, and/or organization. 

If you'd like to explore how we could customize a transformational experience or journey, let's CONNECT here. I want to stand with you as you move toward your preferred future...whatever that may look like! I'm making commitments all the way through 2017, and the calendar is filling up fast. So, don't wait! 

You can also brainstorm a few ideas from my SPEAKING and COACHING pages. Let's talk and figure out together how you can move forward with intentionality and focus in 2017!


Adios 2016: Blessings as New Year's Comes

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. 

That about sums up many of my thoughts for this past year. I've been very honest about my struggles and challenges with this year. But with every "hard" there are buckets of amazing, wonderful, and little lights. Life seems to be about holding the tensions of it all and remaining true to who you are and tenaciously contributing for the betterment of the world.

As I gleefully say ADIOS to 2016, I'm mindful of the goodness that this year also held. In no particular order, here are my Top 10 Blessings in 2016...

  1. My Man. Life together is the sweetest, safest, and sassiest part of my life. Brian is the yin to my yang and so very good for me. Even when we fight and disagree, he's my safety net and challenger to move forward. Celebrating 15 years of marriage with him this year was the ultimate sweetness. He really is the best man I've ever known.
  2. Our Babes. As they get older I find myself a better mom. Babies and toddlers are super cute but older kiddos are more my jam. Conversations that can include jokes and multisyllabic  words are more life-giving for me. Less naps and more energy makes for more fun as we get to play, discover, and explore a little more together. 
  3. Glimmers of Neighborhood Diversity. We've struck friendships with neighbors who are Vietnamese, Indian, and Rwandan. Their culture, accents, and global perspectives have been water to our parched souls. Asher's closest buddy is Muadh and their home smells like a slice of curried heaven. Huy stopped over on Christmas with a gift, card, and a list of "decent" Asian restaurants in town. Our Rwandan neighbors have shared just a bit of African connection with our Ethiopians and their teenage daughter has offered to babysit. Heaven on earth. This past year has deepened my commitment and desire to build relationships with those who are different from me. These friends help me see God, the world, and myself so much better. 
  4. Being a Volunteer in Youth Ministry. For nearly 20 years I was a paid leader in the church, but for the last year I've been a volunteer small group leader to a group of 8th grade girls at our church and it has been surprisingly freeing. Even on the Sunday afternoons when I'd rather take a nap on the couch, I come home from being with my girls energized and inspired. Volunteering has been a breath of fresh air for my soul.
  5. Neighbors of Color. We've sparked friendships with a few neighbors with different accents, traditions, cultures, and foods and my heart has been crazy grateful. God knew that we needed our Vietnamese, Rwandan, and Indian neighbors so very much. 
  6. The "No's". There were a lot of "no's" - or at least "not yet's" - this past year. And while every one stung or broke our hearts, we can see some of the WHY NOT. The "no's" are teaching us steadfastness when we want to run or fight. I'm re-learning the blessing of actively waiting and finding contentment even when my heart is restless.
  7. doTERRA Essential Oils. This may sound crazy but as I've been digging into the healing and wholeness benefits of nature's medicine, I've been awed by the complexity of creation. Almost 6 years we were gifted with our first diffuser and set of oils and there's been no going back. This past I intensified my learning journey and we've been using a bunch of oils for health, mood, focus, energy, relaxation and anything else in between this past year. I'm ridiculously grateful for how they've improved our family's quality of life!!
  8. The Best Friends. From the divine gift of a couple new local girlfriends who feel like lifelong friends to friends who've known me my entire adult life to friends who faithfully pray for our family to friends who are more like family, this year has been filled with trips and times to be together. Tears and belly laughter, secrets and hopes, vulnerable confessions and bold proclamations, working hard and playing hard together...these describe the sanctity of my friends. They are the best.
  9. Gift of Travel. It's been an absolute gift to travel as much as I did this year ... and get paid for it! Being able to hop on a plane and see a different climate, culture, and community has fueled me like I can hardly explain. This year has affirmed a hunch that travel is actually a deeply held value in my bones. I have fallen more in love with my Father's world and being able to be a local in another city reminds me that "home" really is where meaningful relationships are. 
  10. Hope. In the midst of all the hard, I hold on to hope in Jesus. What would we do without hope? Some days I collapse and am desperate for a do over. Hope reminds me that there are new mercies available to me. Hope pulls me toward what's not yet so I don't settle with the reality of today. Hope taps on my shoulder and begs me not to stay where I am today but to move to a better place tomorrow. Hope has challenged me this year not to give up.

As 2016 comes to a close, what blessings can you capture and savor? Especially when life has sucker punched you, it's important to cultivate gratitude. I'd rather be a grateful person carrying a hard load than an ungrateful person with loads of unappreciated gifts. 

As 2017 knocks on our door this evening, make some decisions about who you want to become this year and what you'll contribute to the world around you. God knows, we could all use kinder, more generous, wildly courageous, deeper loving, freely themselves, and more peaceful people in our world. Let's make 2017 that kind of year.

May it begin with me. Happy New Year!!