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What Will You Always Be Known For?

When someone wins an Oscar, for the rest of their lives that descriptor precedes their name. That distinction can never be taken away. Now, no matter what, Lady Gaga, Meryl Streep or Will Smith will always be described as the “Oscar-winning actor _______" (fill in their name).

It got me to thinking. When people describe me, what adjective do they always put in front of my name?

What adjective do you think, always describes you? To your face——or behind your back? Is there a difference? Do you know? What is almost always velcroed to your name?

In corporate America, when someone has been singled out by management as a rising star, they often conduct what’s called a 360 review, where circles of people who are around this person get to say what they really think of them, in a confidential survey. It can also be done when someone in a key position is becoming troublesome, in an effort to let the person see “the unvarnished results” without the names of their peers revealed.

Amazing how the same adjectives will pop up over and over.

Words like “always late”, ‘imperious”, or “condescending”, “two-faced” have a way of being repeated in comments across the board. So do other words like “always kind”, “generous”, “honest-to-the-core”, “fun-loving”, “resilient”, “hard-working”, “creative”.

Our lives create those adjectives, cemented in the minds of others and used to describe us, even when we might not know it. For most of us, it does not come from some award, like an Oscar, or some title we were born into, like “Princess”, or an office we have run for, like “President”.

It comes from behaving a certain way, consistently, over time.

How would you like to be known? Is it time for your own 360 review? Would you like to consider a “do-over”?

Years ago, a person I admired greatly, challenged me to stop adding up the bullet points on my resume and focus on what qualities of authentic character I would like to be forever known for.

“Be known for your qualities rather than your laundry list of accomplishments,”

he said. “Make THAT your mission. Be the consistent “go-to” of generosity, kindness, and humor in a wonky, crazy world.”

Great advice.


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