October 6, 2019 Gary Shotton

Companies reputation can be a great asset if it is positive or a tremendous liability if it is negative.  A positive reputation is worth your time and energy to create. By Gary Shotton #000314

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By Gary Shotton

The word reputation refers to your character or public esteem. For good or for bad, each of us has a reputation, and if we own a business, it has a reputation as well, one that most often reflects our personal character.

Let’s begin by talking about our personal reputation. This is not something that happens overnight. We build our character and public esteem on a day-to-day, week-to-week basis. We can say what we want but reputation is built primarily on consistently doing the right thing. Those we interact with everyday notice both the big things and the small and those actions establish their opinion of us for good or for bad. For example, making a point to always be on time might seem like a small thing, but it relays a positive image of respect for others. Or we could enhance our personal reputations by being generous, paying our fair share.

Honesty is another important factor in establishing a good reputation. One act of honesty won’t get it. We must consistently choose to do the honest, the right thing. It takes just a few dishonest acts to put in the minds of others that we can’t be trusted. “Watch that person. Be careful. That person can’t be trusted.”

We might think that touting our accomplishments and telling others how great we are would be part of a good reputation, but the opposite is true. I’ve known a man for 25 years who has a habit of always promoting himself. He regularly takes credit for everything. “I did that” and “This happened because of me,” are part of his routine conversations.  He’s now in his 70s and his personal reputation has suffered because of this one character flaw. People avoid him, including me. I also know an individual who failed to pay one of his vendors. He may have saved some money by weaseling out of paying what he owed, but he lost a lot more than he gained. He damaged his reputation, after which those who knew of the situation refused to work with him.

If you own a business or plan to, you can be very sure that your personal reputation and habits that dominate your personal life will transfer into your new or current enterprise. Are you dealing honestly with your vendors and your customers? Do you have a reputation for paying your bills on time? Do others see you as easy to work with? Do you deal with your customers as you expect to be treated by your vendors? Are you loyal to your suppliers and vendors or are you likely to jump ship if you have an opportunity to save a few dollars? Of course there are times when prudence must prevail. For example, a vendor is not meeting your expectation or their pricing is way out of line. But loyalty is a character trait that enhances both your personal and business lives. We’ve had the same insurance agent for 22 years. He helped us with our health care when we first started. He’s been loyal to us, and we insist on being loyal to him. In business as in your personal life, what people think when you walk into the room is based on your reputation—how you have dealt with others.

My father was a farmer. Back in the mid ‘60s, he was faced with a heart-wrenching situation that had to do with his reputation. The price of wheat was right around one dollar per bushel and a truckload of wheat was about 350 bushels or $350. My father had a lot of land to be harvested so he hired what is commonly known as traveling harvesting crews that came up from the south to cut wheat. These custom cutters often had more than one combine and could work for more than one farmer at one time. This was the case with my father, some other farmers, and a neighbor down the road.

My father was appalled when the neighbor accused him of stealing wheat from him. The problem arose from the way the grain was processed at the grain elevator. When the trucks were loaded and left the fields, the drivers would report to the grain elevator operators the ownership of the grain in their trucks. My father’s neighbor accused my dad and four other farmers who had used the same custom harvester he had of stealing his wheat by arranging for the drivers to report wrong ownership to the elevator operator. This alleged theft was reported to the local newspaper saying that the five farmers had conspired, and each had stolen one truckload of wheat valued at $350 each. This, of course, was far from the truth.

This whole situation was hurtful to those involved and the small, close-knit community as well. The accusing farmer filed a lawsuit and the farmers in question were called into court. There weren’t many court hearings in our little town so it was out there for all to see and hear. For those accused farmers, it was like a dagger to the heart. Nevertheless, the men were compelled to defend themselves and prove that that the yield on their wheat would not have allowed them to add an additional truckload. This had obviously been a false accusation, but it really tore them up to have their reputations challenged personally and professionally.

This unfortunate situation taught me to be careful before believing every accusation. There were some in town who looked with disfavor at those accused. However, others considered the honest reputations of those accused and were delighted at the end of the day then those farmers were able to prove that the charges were false and the accuser was just trying to get out of paying his harvest bill.

It’s possible for any of us to be falsely accused. Sometimes it’s important to defend ourselves and sometimes it’s enough to let our reputations speak for themselves. I’m new to Facebook. I don’t really understand how it works, but I do know that I would never send out a post that contained bad language of sexual content. And yet, someone recently spoofed me by sending out an inappropriate post to everyone on my Facebook list. Needless to say, I was unhappy and asked my friends how I should handle the situation. Ultimately, I decided not to chase it down. Instead, I would rest on my reputation. Those who know me know that I would not have posted something of that nature. My actions over time have convinced them that I’m not that kind of person.

I remember something my pastor said about turning things over to God and letting him take care of them. When he was a young man, he was more rambunctious and able to physically defend himself when someone offended him. In his immaturity, he failed to handle some situations appropriately. As he grew in the Lord, he began to say, “I’m just going to turn this over to the Lord.” It wasn’t very long before some guys from another town came up and whooped up on him and his friends. This time, he was able to let it go and let God deal with those offenders.

A strong reputation and trust in God can get you through many tough situations. The bottom line is to do the right thing every time. Even a great reputation won’t help you if you aren’t consistent day in and day out. One person in our town had the highest credentials and a long and well respected reputation in the legislative branch. He succumbed to temptation because of a gambling addiction and stole money from the organization he worked for. He will be remembered not for the good reputation he had built over the years but for the crime that brought him down.

Allow God to help you build and maintain a good personal and business reputation based on many big and little daily decisions to do the right thing, the fair thing. Then ask God to help you keep doing right. He will always keep you on the right path.


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