Day 276 (Two-Hundred & Seventy-Six) of 365 days

When we enter the adult world, we tend to put a lot of care into the building and cultivating our reputations. The way we present ourselves and the way others perceive us lends itself to how successful we can be in both our personal and professional lives. But have you ever taken the time to consider how your cyber reputation is affecting you? We post, share and like without a second thought, but every piece of information we divulge about ourselves online lives on the Internet forever. So it may be time to consider how your web behaviour is shaping your reputation and spend some time learning what steps you can take to ensure it’s protected.

A reputation is probably one of the most important things a person can have in life. A reputation may decide your whole life and decide how successful you may become. Many people may say that the way a person or people view you doesn’t matter or doesn’t affect you in life but it does drastically. A reputation or the way someone looks at you can be viewed as the way you dress, your education level or the people you are associated with and sometimes people are given a reputation by the acts of the people in their family. Many people cannot get jobs or succeed in life because of their reputation.

A reputation is an animal designed by a committee: You give birth to it, but the way it develops depends on the actions of others. Your reputation lives a very real existence apart from you, representing the collective mental construct everyone but you shares about you, a construct based partially on your actions but also on the perceptions others have about others' perceptions of your actions. We only ever influence our reputation—never control—as is the case with all things external to us, but it remains one of our most precious assets (far more important than anyone job, house, car, or even, some would argue, money).

Our reputation is a tool, then—not, hopefully, for creating or maintaining our self-esteem but for practical navigation through daily life. A good reputation smoothes out the journey somewhat, and a bad one causes doors to slam in our face and tests our confidence in ourselves.

In all things, it’s harder to build than to destroy. Building a good reputation requires effort, patience, and time. Destroying a good reputation only requires a single moment’s misstep. The secret to building a good reputation? Become a person who deserves one. Take consistent action that embodies the characteristics you want others to associate with you. Don’t just mouth the platitudes of hard work, attention to detail, loyalty, and drive—live them. Don’t mouth them at all. Let others discover them in you.

A reputation is a fragile thing. It requires constant feeding. Consistency is crucial. If you live up to your reputation 99 percent of the time but fail to do so 1 percent of the time, you risk disproportionate damage if the person you let down is highly influential in your network. A good reputation shouldn’t be an end in itself but rather a natural outgrowth of your striving to be the person you most want to be.

Caring about our reputation doesn't mean we need others to like us. It means recognizing that as human beings we often can't help judging a book by its cover and that as long as the book itself is good, there's nothing wrong with caring about having an attractive cover around it.