What about your Reputation? How do you build it?

There are some people who are very talented, while some are not. Some are born rich with the proverbial silver spoon in their mouth, while others are not so lucky. Some are born in the land of opportunity, yet others in hopeless anarchies. There are many things on which we may not have control, but there is one on which each of us has exclusive control. Nobody can take it away from us. This is our integrity. Do I say what I think? Do I do what I do what I say? Or, is there a variance?

Like Stephen Covey says, Integrity is like a bicycle wheel. Every time, there is a gap between thought, words and action, one spoke goes. For instance, one of my friends invites me to his wedding in Indore. Not to offend him, I tell him, “sure”. Later, I think of my own engagements, cost, etc. and when the time comes, I make an excuse like my aunt has come over, or my wife is not well or whatever. Even if what I say is a fact, one spoke of the wheel of integrity is broken. My friend may not even protest. So far no problem. Next time, a phone call comes at my home, and I ask someone to tell that I am not at home. One more spoke is broken. Still, no problem.

A time will however come when enough number of spokes will have broken, and my wheel of integrity may collapse. People may stop trusting me and I may become like meteorological department. When they say it will rain heavily, people may say that now it will surely not rain today. (No offence meant to meteorological department, there are far too many factors involved in prediction). Is integrity, honesty? No, like nobody questions the honesty or sincerity of meteorological department, even when predictions go wrong.

Integrity does not mean ‘no breakdown’. It only means a decision if I am going to expand or contract it. Whether I am going to play by the rules of expediency or diplomacy? Or do I realize that every expediency has a long term cost?

This way, my words and speech may lose value in public eye. Mind you, this has nothing to do with my background, social status, intelligence, etc. This integrity is not something I was born with. It is my choice. It is possible that I may have picked up such habits from others in my early formative years, but I can always decide to restore my integrity. It may take some time if considerable erosion has taken place. Life is not like chess; one can bounce back even if one has been checkmated.

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