Let’s look at a simple, yet powerful concept this week: staying above reproach.
What does that mean? It means that you earn the trust of those around you by behaving in ways that prove you are trustworthy. Building trust is essential to building a circle of family and friends that you can rely on. Are you reliable? I’d like to think that I am. I hope others see me as trustworthy. For that reason, I have some basic guidelines that I keep so that I am always above reproach. They help me maintain the trust that is so fragile, and can so easily be broken. In a world of instant communication, rampant drama-seeking media, and short attention spans, we are all one Facebook post away from a stained reputation. Here are some examples of things that help innoculate me from an untrue rumor or perception:
- I do not go into a neighbor’s home unless the man of the house is present. Not because I do not trust myself or my amazing neighbors, it’s because I don’t need someone seeing me go in and assuming something untrue. The same concept applies to work meetings or lunches – if I’m meeting a female coworker, I make sure there is someone else who can join us. If a rumor of infidelity like that got around a community, it could tarnish a reputation forever – even if it’s not true!
- I wave at security cameras. I know that sounds dumb, but in my work, I self-report my timecards. If I had to prove that I actually worked a certain amount of time in a location, I like to know that I can easily point whoever is accusing me of lying to the security footage. It might be paranoid, but the spirit of it is sound: I do my best to act with integrity and I don’t expect I’ll ever need to prove it, but if I do I’d like to be able to.
- I use a specific, separate account for things that can be written off on taxes. I never want to feel like I’m about to get caught if I get audited – so I do my best to present every scrap of information I can think of to my tax preparer. I would rather miss out on a few bucks than miss out on integrity. Staying above reproach with my money is a priority to me.
These are three “biggies” in my life that I do not break. There are more little things like them, but instead of coughing up my whole list, I want you to think about your own! Take some time today to think about accusations you’ve had to “defend” from. What can you do differently next time to avoid that kind of confrontation? I suggest talking about the things you come up with to your spouse or friends. I’ve found that it makes it feel more “official” when you do that. I also like the fact that my wife knows that I go out of my way to make sure we never have to deal with a hurtful rumor.
Of course, if you aren’t doing the right thing to begin with then all of this is pointless.
Let’s prevent damage to your credibility instead of fighting it when it shows up. It’s a lot easier to maintain credibility that way!
Let’s end average together.