Reputation is Authority’s Dark Shadow

The news is full of some incredible stories of humanity recently:

There are commonalities. Each of these people were at the top of the world. They were the ultimate authorities – no one could even come close to challenging them.

Michael PhelpsAuthority is one of those things that someone can gain without a reputation. All three of these men were relatively common people before they attained uncommon authority. They achieved goals that were way beyond what appeared to be available to mere mortals like you and me.

Within a year, President Obama moved from a junior Senator to reach the highest office (arguably) in the world. In 10 years, AROD grew to be the best and most well-paid professional baseball player. In 7 years, Phelps became the most decorated Olympian in history, virtually unknown before the last 2 Olympics.

Reputation is a lot like a shadow. It’s always there and it’s always with you. While the sun is shining in your face, it’s behind you and, perhaps, forgotten. If you’re a normal person, no one pays attention to your shadow. However, when you’re standing above the crowd, you cast quite a shadow.

In this world where everything we do is recorded and available to everyone, we’re going to have to get used to humans being humans. None of us are perfect, nor will we ever attain perfection.

As you strive to build authority, just don’t forget that you have a reputation out there to uphold.


  1. 1

    “While the sun is shining in your face, it?s behind you and, perhaps, forgotten… when you?re standing above the crowd, you cast quite a shadow.”

    Yes… and with the Internet that shadow will have an audience of 3 Billion People at the speed of light. It is a lot tougher to make mistakes and cover it up now. Information dissemination is instantaneous.

  2. 2

    “Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” Abraham Lincoln

    You’re in good company with your thoughts! 😉

    • 3

      Hi Andy!

      I’ve been really thinking of picking up a book on Lincoln. Some of the History Channel shows of late have had me glued. Thanks much for sharing this! I’m not worthy of that kind of compliment, though.


  3. 4

    Both Michael and ARod were stupid choices, the President, with as many choices he has to make, is bound to get a few wrong.

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