I was just starting out in the workforce, which in my days as a teenager most of us worked fast food. The work was steady and the pay met my needs at the time. But as I started working in the workforce I realized that who you associated yourself with at work was important. I just believed it was important for other reasons.
I wanted to hang out with the cool teens that I worked with. It’s funny how little groups seem to form in the workplace, and it certainly did back then. So I remember that everyone was friendly, but one group seemed to be what I perceived was cool. Yes, that was the rating we gave things that met a certain element of approval. Cool was good and cool was popular. That is what I wanted to be a part of.
So during my days off and after work I started hanging out with the cool crowd from work. It’s always nice to make new friends and I believed the more friends you could have the “cooler” you would be perceived. I was more concerned with how I was perceived. Another way to state this is I was more concerned with my reputation.
Over time I would be with the cool group and someone in the group would cause some mischief or do some things that would make me uncomfortable. Some of their actions crossed the line of right and wrong. But because I was concerned about my reputation I went along. Yes, I was a fool.
It did not take long for my mother to see a change, but also notice I was not the happy son she knew. As I have stated before, my mother was the best leadership coach, who chose to be a housewife, and as a coach and leader she recognized the warning signs. As a coach and leader, she confronted the situation. My mother questioned, and I listened. She told me what she observed and what her motherly wisdom was telling her. She always could see right through me.
In time I opened up to my mother and about my misgivings of my new found friends. My mother stopped me and asked if I was concerned about my reputation, and certainly I said yes. Now I knew she would understand that. She didn’t.
My mother, in her leadership wisdom coached me to see the difference and the importance for me to be more concerned about my character than my reputation. She said, “Marcos Antonio, reputations come and go but your character stays with you. Your character is who you are as a person.”
My mother taught me that people will worry about their reputation. Problem is even people of bad character worry of such. My mother stated, “Your reputation may open doors but your character will keep you there.”
Thanks Mom. I learned and observed as my character allowed me to go through difficult times. Mom said, “When faced with a crisis a man of character falls back on himself.” Mom, that is so true, and that man of character will gain strength and from those experiences become a better man. After all when we are more concerned about our character, what can be said about our reputation?