build your reputation as part of your signature legacy

05/10/2011

by carolyn mathews

“You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” – Henry Ford

Henry Ford’s reputation endures and he developed it by doing, not by promising. Known for revolutionizing manufacturing and his business acumen, he also is known for being a pacifist for much of his life. Prior to his death, however, his reputation was marred by scandal associated with anti-Semitic views published in a newspaper he owned. While undoubtedly these views harmed not only his reputation, but also his business, it is his reputation for innovation for which he has remained known during the past 100 years. Henry Ford’s life illustrates the importance of reputation as an important component of creating your Signature Legacy.

Your Signature Legacy is not only something amassed to be left behind; it is something you create by how you live. Previously, I mentioned the “3Rs” in creating your Signature Legacy: Raison D’être (purpose), Retirement Planning, and Reputation. So far, I have written about the first two Rs, finding your purpose and planning your retirement well-being. Finding your life’s purpose can “foster the life and reputation for which you want to be known.”  Planning for retirement can help you develop greater well-being financially, socially, as part of a community, and with your health.

Developing and caring for your reputation can be a tricky topic to discuss. We all have heard it takes years to build a reputation and a moment to destroy it. This can be a daunting thought, and for most of us, an over-statement. Consider the sum of Ford’s reputation, mentioned above. Some of you may argue one’s character is more important than one’s reputation. Others may suggest we have little control over what others think about us. I believe both positions to be true. Living a life that reflects our values provides an indication of our character, and leaves fewer opportunities for the ridicule of our legacy.

To develop your reputation, ask the simple question, “How do I want to be known by family members, friends, colleagues, and others I care about?” One’s reputation is closely linked to the other two Rs: raison d’être (finding our purpose) and retirement planning (caring for our well-being). Finding our purpose, fed by our personal strengths and values, provides the roadmap for our reputation. Acting on that purpose is part of our retirement planning. When we find a way to contribute to our world, we nourish our well-being. It doesn’t have to be a grand global initiative. Live your life – during your career and after – in a way that shows you have passion for your purpose in a way that leaves your workplace, the community, or the world in a better way than how you found it. That is what people will remember about you; that is your reputation.

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