You Deserve a Specific Reputation

By Patrick McNerthney 

Unfortunately for me, it turns out I have quite a reputation. This is somewhat unavoidable, as it turns out our actions define who we are, rather than our words. For example, I constantly tell my wife I’m not a slob. But when I make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich as a pre-bedtime snack (one of my favorite pastimes, followed closely by a midnight snack), I (according to her) smear peanut butter all over the kitchen. On the counter, on the faucet handle, all over the cupboards, and don’t even ask about the fridge where we keep the jam. 

(I say “according to her” because I never see the evidence. She’s so fastidious by the time I’m out of bed the next morning all evidence of my malfeasance has been destroyed – or wiped up – so I’m forced to take her word for it).

(Imagine your whole kitchen covered in this–yum!)

So despite my verbal protests and assurances about “who” and “how” I am (clean, organized, a regular Julia Child), the truth is, my actions, unfortunately, demonstrate the truth. Thus, I develop a reputation for being a slovenly mess. Which, now that I think about it, is more accurate (sigh) – at least when it comes to bedtime snacks.

On the other hand, and just to throw a positive note in here: my work reputation is that I always deliver on deadline, a.k.a. I’m reliable. This is a must for a freelance marketing writer. Clients run businesses, which means they’re in meetings, navigating competing priorities, writing on big whiteboards, buried in emails and phone calls, and trying to figure out what the heck is going on through project management software. Not to mention they have a BOSS who is likely prattling on and on about “company vision” and MEMBERS OF THE ESTEEMED BOARD and revenue streams and such. So the last thing they need is to assign someone a specific project (i.e. an article, blog post, copy for a social media ad, etc.) only to hear, “Oh hey by the way, this is going to be super late. Have a nice day!”

(Oh how I loathe meetings,post-it notes–especially the blue ones and of course, whiteboards…) 

So, it behooved me to develop a reputation for doing and delivering, based on the promise of, “…Yes, I can do that, by such and such a time, deliver it by end-of-day on such and such a date–never late, following all directions, nothing I love more than a challenge!” 

Here’s the thing though. While this “good” reputation takes a lot of work, it’s really simple: be nice, keep promises, contribute, and deliver. What’s harder is developing a SPECIFIC reputation in-step with a good reputation, ie. what other attributes can I add to make myself even more attractive? In my case, that would mean developing a reputation as a marketing writer who thinks of new and better ways of doing things, without fear, taking risks, and pushing the envelope; the kind of writer who uses the client’s marketing strategy and – if it’s not getting the expected results – scrapping the whole thing and building something new and bold, from scratch.

Sounds cool, but the problem is, lots of folks don’t want to do this because we’re really not aligned in our worldviews. So, in the course of developing this specific reputation, sometimes I have to say “no” to people who are too scared to take risks, or I could get fired by clients who think I’m crazy. And when the phone isn’t ringing, I’ll do just about anything to get it to ring for the short-term gain.

BUT, conversely (see how many sides there are to this?), if I develop this specific reputation, the phone will only ring with the types of calls I’m super excited to answer, offering work that really matters to me. It’s tough to navigate, but the point is, we all have a choice, we all have agency, when it comes to developing the reputations we want.

Over to you. As you care for your residents and loved ones and seek to protect them from the anxiety and depression that comes with social isolation, have you considered what kind of specific reputation you want? Your good reputation speaks for itself: you’re nice, keep promises, contribute, and deliver. But it’s important to ponder a specific reputation, not because it serves your ego, but because caregivers do work that matters – even though they probably don’t hear that very often, if ever.

Fine Art Miracles (FAM) has a way for you to develop a specific reputation as someone who finds better ways of doing things, without fear, takes risks, and pushes the envelope. It’s called creative expression, and it’s the antidote to the symptoms of social isolation: depression and anxiety. 

The act of making has a magical effect on the elderly, children with challenges, and those who need help with the activities of daily living. FAM’s Art Therapy, Music Therapy, Drama Therapy, Dance & Movement Therapy, and Drumming Exercise Therapy (that’s just a few of their services…check out their Art2Go webstore too) create feelings of self-worth, confidence, mastery, and a sense of connection and importance for challenged populations. These programs create real change that you can see, and sometimes when we do work that matters, if we’re afforded a chance to see impact in-action, it makes us realize our own importance and relevance too.

Plus it’s just pretty cool, fun, and a sure-fire way to develop your specific reputation as someone willing to push the envelope in service of others. So what are you waiting for, go, go! Give FAM a call or drop them a note to get started.

As for me, I’ve got a long way to go on my journey to a specific reputation. But that’s okay, it’s a journey. And when I”m on a journey I like to pack  a little snack…I wonder where that jar of peanut butter is?


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