Warren Buffet once said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” Relationship is key to leadership and reputation. Trust and confidence in a person takes time to build. The more we invest, are present, and are intentional in our interactions with others, the more easily trust is built. However, one wrong act, one lie, one selfish decision will ruin years of building trust and respect. If relationships are vital to the growth and progress of a team, we must constantly be on guard and watch what we say and do.

I live by a code: “Live in a way that morals and ethics are a habit and never a choice.” Morality tells us to live in a way that respects all people. It’s about making decisions and choices that are right and takes care of others around us. Ethics is doing the right thing no matter the cost, which is in direct line with integrity. If we purposefully live in a way that morals and ethics are a habit, relationships will be protected. However, I do not believe ALL relationships are good relationships. By making morals and ethics a staple in our lives, we will assuredly lose relationships, and those are the ones that have no place in our personal and professional life.

Reputation is important, as it is what goes before you. People hear about your reputation before they even meet you. The reputation you choose to have will determine your effectiveness as a leader and team player. Will people always speak positively about you? Probably not; especially when you live with morals and ethics. When you stand for what is right, do what is right, say what is right, I guarantee you will make enemies. But that’s okay. Those are the people that don’t belong on our team, or better, people we shouldn’t be following. 

We must always be on guard and protect our heart and mind. In a world that believes that looking out for number one is more important than service and self-sacrifice, we must always watch our steps as we traverse life’s path. It is easy to get entangled with the ways of the world, but we are called to be more; to be above the ways of the world. This world does not care about morality or ethical living. This world makes excuses for doing wrong in the name of self-righteousness. We must always keep our eyes on things above, and guard our heart and mind from the ways of the world. We must lead, love, and live with integrity.

We are not who we say we are, but rather what we do. We can claim to be men and women of integrity, but if our actions do not match our words, then who we say we are is a lie. People watch what we do. As the adage goes, “Talk is cheap.” Your reputation is a reflection of what we do. If we are constantly bad mouthing others, finding yourself in situations that question our morals and ethics, or if we live in a way that seeks personal gain through any means, our reputation will not promote positive relationships. There is a saying that I have found to be very true, “Whether you think so or not, someone is always watching you.” It’s not meant to sound creepy, but rather to make us aware of our actions and responses.  

Reputation is what goes before you, and it is legacy that follows you. The foundation on which you build your life will determine what kind of reputation will precede you and what legacy you will leave behind. Choose wisely what you do and what you say. After all, it takes years to build a reputation and only minutes to destroy it. 


  1. You are not defined by who you say you are, but rather by what you do. Your reputation is not built on pretty words, but on actions that are observed and questioned. Actions speak louder than words.
  2. Morality and ethics are the foundation that you should build your reputation. Live a life of integrity, and make it so interwoven in every fiber of your being that morals and ethics are habit and not a choice.
  3. If you live with integrity, expect to make enemies. 
  4. Reputation is what precedes you, and legacy is what follows you. How and what you build your life will determine the value and effectiveness of both.
  5. Be mindful of your actions and words and keep a close eye on your heart and mind. 

Stay humble, serve well.

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