Successive Approximations

Reputation and Resilience

Reputation and Resilience

If your reputation can't absorb a few blows, it wasn't worth anything in the first place.

Ryan Holiday, Ego Is The Enemy

It's so tempting to think that your reputation is fragile. You feel like you spent years building it up, and then someone posts something negative about you. More people pile on. People you've never heard of before, who just enjoy the bandwagon of hate. People so empty that they have to keep busy pointing out the flaws of others to avoid facing their own.

Meanwhile, your own audience is nowhere to be seen. You might get a few private messages asking you what the real story is, or saying they support you, but the good people you work so hard to help mind their own business. And who can blame them? You're not their responsibility. They don't know the whole story so they don't have any reason to stick their neck out to defend you.

The vandals throw bottles and scrawl graffiti while the everyman just tries go about his day without getting involved.

If all you listen to is the noise from the howler monkeys, you'll think everything you've worked so hard for the last few years has been wiped out in a day.

But it's not true. This wave will wash over and move on to someone else and you'll be left behind. The people who speak without thinking will have said their piece, and the people who observe and consider without immediately talking will take it all in. They'll see what's afoot. And they'll see the vandals for what they are.

Don't try to play their game. And don't worry that your reputation is ruined.

The only overnight revelation that can blot out years of track record is the revelation of a track record of wrongdoing. The public figure who sends one wayward email that unlocks a sordid past was doomed all along. It was just a matter of time.

But you, if you do the right thing, day in, day out, don't have much to fear. One mis-step, one gaffe, that's all it is. You have no seedy underbelly to be revealed. This one blip on the radar will pass. Your audience will grow because people who never heard of you will hear your name now. They'll see what your doing, see past this current moment, and appreciate what you're trying to do. After the wave passes, it will have deposited a new, larger audience.

So, weather the storm. Anything that takes years to build takes years to unravel. If whatever you built was so fragile that a few waves could wipe it away, it wasn't very good in the first place.

Ben Berry

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