Will You or I Ever Have to Declare Reputation Bankruptcy? Hopefully Not

Accountability Personal leadership


I’m not prone to paranoia but also hope I’m aware of what’s real. A 25 year old teacher in training posted a picture of her drinking on her My Space page. The Millersville University School of Education disavowed her graduation a few days before convocation. The Pennsylvania courts upheld the decision. A 66 year old Canadian psychotherapist was permanently barred from entering the U.S. after a Google search found him writing about his LSD experiments in research 30 years ago. A 16 year old British girl was fired for posting “I’m bored” on her Facebook.

Jeffery Rosen has written a great piece on this matter in the July 25 New York Times Magazine entitled  “The Web Means the End of Forgetting”.  The premise is that we are digitally captured everywhere and the recording of our actions are essentially permanent. The process and concept of forgetting is being redefined.

Human behavior and so called perfection are complicated subjects at both a philosophical and practical level. That’s why judgment by many people’s beliefs may be best managed by a higher order. However we all agree that we all make mistakes. Compassionate societies historically have provided most of us a way to forget and forgive. Digital systems however, now even more pervasive through social media, theoretically have captured our actions eternally in the most detailed and personal way.

At work, every email and now arguably every tweet, post, credit score, blog, picture, video, etc, in and out of work fills out the story of who we are. We need to be aware and also able to move on when something we are not proud of is captured. Hopefully applying the Character Triangle helps to maximize the best of who we are. That gets captured too.

Warren Buffet, the wise investor philosopher is not very digital savvy. But perhaps his analogue advise is sage for all of us, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

with Character,