This I Believe

Richard - Columbia, South Carolina
Entered on May 24, 2007

You Have To Be Good Everyday

I believe my father, the king of random adages to live by. He constantly reminds my family of his keys to success, and they have strongly affected the way that I live my life. His favorite sayings are “you only get one chance to make a first impression,” and “you’ve got to be good everyday.” Through his constant reminders, I have been taught to carefully monitor the way that I present myself to the world.

My father has impressed upon my family that your reputation, which he defines as the way that others view you, can be your most valuable ally or your most hated enemy. A good reputation can lead to opportunities later on, but a bad reputation can bar you from them. My brother Nelson experienced firsthand how reputation can open doors. He and his friend Joe were approached by a man in a suit while having lunch in a Mexican restaurant one summer. He was a few booths away and had overheard them discussing how they planned to spend their lives after college. He was so impressed by the way they spoke and the way they looked in their collared shirts and pants that he offered them a job after a short conversation with them. Granted, they didn’t take his offer, but the first impression they made on the man opened the door to a new career.

Another more universal example of my belief is how Americans view President George W. Bush. Since most of us will never know him personally, his reputation with the populations comes completely from his speeches and public actions. When he uses made-up words like “strategery” in his speeches, many people think that he would be unfit to take our order at McDonald’s, much less run our country. Even though he may be a very intelligent man, his reputation with the public says otherwise. Had he lived by my father’s adages and carefully chosen his words, his reputation could be much different, but instead he has one of the lowest public opinion ratings of any president. His prominent place in the world makes his reputation much harder to maintain, but by changing some of his actions in minor ways, he could have made a significant impact on his own reputation.