Water was in short supply in the university campus. Students spent hours on queues at the few available taps trying to get water in containers, mostly buckets. A queue went as long as over 100 containers with some of the owner standing on the sides. Some students could not wait; they dropped their containers and returned for them later.
On this day, this student, a male, dropped his brand new blue bucket on the queue beside one of males’ hostel and left. He returned and saw a bucket that looks exactly like it already filled with water and he took it, thinking it was his. While he was walking away, the real owner the bucket confronted him and accused him of theft and proved with a tiny mark on the bottom of the bucket.
The students that had gathered at the scene, left with the impression that the student was “on trial” was guilty of theft. His explanations were not accepted by many, or so it seemed.
That incident dented his reputation – the value of his personal brand. In the next few weeks, when he walked around on campus, he could almost perceive other students calling him a thief. The impression lingered.
Lessons to Learn
1. Explain. When you goof in public, especially if you are a celebrity, try as much as possible to put the records straight before the audience disperse. Mind you, there is always a probability of making a mistake.
2. Avoid similar occurrences. You might not succeed at clearing your name in a particular incident of wrong; in fact some will not believe you. So from then henceforth, ensure that you don’t get involved in any other situation similar or related to that event. If a wrong action is not reinforced by other similar action, that action will soon be relegated to the back-side of people’s memory.
3. Move on. People are judged by the consistency of their actions. When you consistently do things excellently, you will be known for it. As a result, that moment of error will not count much.
4. Use it. Bad news spreads faster than good news. That means when you goof in public, you become more popular. Instead of whimpering under the spot light, use the opportunity to show the best in you. Reputation crisis will either bury you or elevate you. You choose.