You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do

Henry Ford

Actions speak louder than words

When I was a teenager, I wish I had fully understood this saying.  When my first boyfriend said he liked me, that he wanted to be with me.  All the sweet things he said, and the fact I believed him,  was symptomatic of my complete naivety.   Of course, these years are learning and formative aren’t they?  When he avoided me and eventually dumped me for someone else, I found it hard to comprehend.  Was he lying when he said all those nice things to me?  If I had known then that actions speak louder than words, I would have been much less confused.   So this tenet is very relevant when thinking about this quote about reputation.  You certainly can’t build a reputation for what you are saying.  It’s all about what you do. 

Taking action to achieve your vision or goal

I remember a situation I was in when I first went into business on my own.  I knew what I wanted.  Having the right vision was vital to success.  I spent a long time being clear about the outcomes I wanted to see happen.  6 months down the line, I realised I was not getting anywhere near where I wanted to be.  With some serious reflection, I realised that creating a vision and setting up expectations was simply not enough.  When a lovely woman in my team was asked in a learning session to say some words about me, she said: “Christina has big aspirations”.   I knew it was the best compliment I could have at that time because actually, my aspirations were all she had. 

I lived this quote at that time about the fact you can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.  You had to take the action and do what you said.  Your reputation is built on action.  What you do is the proof of the pudding.  Additionally, no vision or outcome will be achieved unless you truly start moving towards it and prioritising the action you take to move towards it.  Vision without action is just a wish list. 

Building a Reputation from the Inside Out

In today’s interconnected world, reputation is more crucial than ever. It can open doors to new opportunities or close them before they even appear. However, building a genuine, enduring reputation isn’t just about external perceptions; it begins from within. Here’s how you can build a reputation from the inside out.

Self-Reflection: Know Who You Are

Starting with Self-Understanding

To build a reputation authentically, you must first understand yourself. Reflect on your values, beliefs, and principles. Ask yourself what you stand for, what you believe in, and what you want to be known for. This self-awareness forms the foundation of your reputation.

Consistency in Actions and Words

Once you understand your core values, ensure that your actions and words consistently reflect them. Inconsistencies between what you say and do can quickly erode your reputation.

Skill Development: Excel in Your Field

Continuous Learning

Stay curious and committed to learning. Whether it’s enhancing existing skills or acquiring new ones, continuous personal and professional development is key to establishing a reputation as a knowledgeable and skilled individual.

Sharing Knowledge

Share your expertise with others. Writing articles, speaking at conferences, or mentoring can not only reinforce your understanding but also establish you as a thought leader in your field.

Integrity: Be Trustworthy and Ethical

Honesty and Transparency

Be honest and transparent in your interactions. A reputation built on integrity is resilient. Admit to mistakes and take responsibility for them. This builds trust and respect.

Ethical Decision-Making

Make decisions based on your ethical principles, even when it’s difficult. This demonstrates moral leadership, a vital component of a solid reputation.

Emotional Intelligence: Understand and Relate to Others

Empathy and Listening

Develop empathy. Understanding and relating to the feelings of others is crucial in building strong, positive relationships. Listen actively and respond thoughtfully.

Constructive Feedback

Learn to give and receive constructive feedback. This not only helps in personal growth but also shows that you value growth and improvement in others.

Networking: Build and Maintain Relationships

Genuine Connections

Network with authenticity. Build relationships based on mutual interests and respect, rather than just on what someone can do for you.

Consistent Engagement

Keep in touch with your network regularly, not just when you need something. Offer help and support to others in your network.

Resilience: Handle Challenges Gracefully

Facing Adversity

When faced with challenges, handle them with grace and resilience. The way you deal with difficulties can significantly impact your reputation.

Learning from Failure

View failures as opportunities to learn and grow. This attitude shows that you are resilient and committed to continuous improvement.

Public Image: Align Your Public Persona

Social Media Presence

Be mindful of how you present yourself on social media. Ensure your online presence aligns with the reputation you are building.

Consistent Messaging

Whether it’s speaking at an event or posting on LinkedIn, ensure your public messages reflect your core values and professional expertise.


Building a reputation from the inside out is a journey of self-discovery, skill development, and relationship building. It requires integrity, emotional intelligence, resilience, and a consistent public image. Remember, a reputation is not just about how others see you, but how you see yourself and act upon it. By focusing on these internal aspects, you can build a reputation that is not only positive but also deeply authentic and enduring.

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