I recently paid a visit to the Henry Ford Museum. It was amazing. What impressed me the most and gave me something to ponder on was this quote from him:

Henry Ford

Coincidentally, I was attending a leadership meeting during this Detroit visit, and was able to ponder the messages with the great quote by Henry (we’re on a first name basis now). The world is paved with good intentions, and so many leadership seminars bring valid fluff, but seldom finish the messaging from the board to the heart. This is exactly what Henry was talking about; our reputations for all good are built upon what we have actually done; what we have inculcated into our daily practices.

The space between our desires and our habits is the gap we need to eliminate or reduce to become who we intend to be. It’s a matter of incorporating our values into our habits. How can this be done. First of all, I would suggest taking time to develop your governing values. For a company or an individual, they usually are not so different; If they are the same; all the better because it will avoid incongruities in one’s life. Sit and ponder key words or phrases—-words or phrases that make up the formula of who you are or in most cases (such as myself), who you want to become. Let me give a personal phrase from my governing values:

Effective Communicator:

I believe in a style of communication that will inspire others. I desire to be transparent in relationships and while inviting healthy debate, to only speak in positive ways, even when disagreeing. I don’t attempt to coerce, manipulate, or control. I seek first to understand, and then to be understood. I speak with respect and a calm that invites sincere dialogue. I am an effective communicator.

I stated the phrase, explained my thoughts behind it, and closed the statement in the affirmative “I am”. This is one part of my personal document of governing values; I review it every week, and it allows myself to take an inventory, to measure how I progressed that week on my value, and see if I’m building my reputation by living it, or if it is just nice fluff.

You can see that putting into action the desire closes the gap between who I am and who I want to become.

Really this principle of striving to grow and live what we know to be right touches all phases of life and relationships. It includes honoring your agreements, being true to your loved ones, establishing patterns of excellence.

With this thought in mind, while at these meetings I found myself next to a board member who I know is highly successful. I asked him to bullet point for me what he believes are the secret to success (we were talking business and entrepreneurial ventures). He said 1) Have an eye level awareness of natural talent. I took this to mean to know your strengths and build upon them. 2) Make following up a habit. This I understood to mean what I call closing the gap between values and habits. My reading of my personal value statement each week is how I do it. And lastly 3) Never stop learning. I loved the simplicity of this and they all consisted of actionable items that build reputation by doing—not just thinking about doing.

You will remember in my last blog I talked about the aspect of continuous learning and being teachable. Those concepts weave into the message of this writing about reputation and being a doer.

Let us all strive to build our reputations by creating our governing values and striving to close the gap between who we are and who we really want to be.