Don’t spend those “atta-boys” unwisely.

2 03 2016

“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

“It takes 20 years to build a good reputation, and five minutes to ruin it.  If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” ~ Warren Buffett

I used to be a shipwright (wood butcher for boats), and I was pretty good at what I did.  Sometimes, though, I’d get lazy, or take a short-cut that was easier, but showed in the final product.  It might be not digging out a wood plug where the grain was off just a few degrees, or not sanding out a drip in the paint, because I’d have to re-paint a whole section if I did so.  When I did that, my boss would tell me “It only takes one Jimmy (what he called these mistakes) to erase 15 atta-boy’s.

This message is about consistency, and reliability.  This is a word of warning for those who walk the leadership walk… most of the time, but then get petty, show favoritism to a buddy, or otherwise lose the walk when they find it convenient to do so.  Be careful when you break your routine.  One mistake might not totally ruin your leadership reputation, as your team might forgive you for being human, but each time you do it, you’re spending a LOT of political capital quickly, and you build up that capital very slowly.

Speaking of building…


Rubes cartoons used with permission.




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