I was raised to believe that names meant something...
Entire families were presumed to be this way or that way based solely on name reputation. Each family member had a responsibility to uphold the family’s name and reputation (or minimally not bring shame to it). Whether it was spoken or not, the underlying responsibility flashed like a bright neon light for everyone to notice and remember. The weight of this responsibility on teenage shoulders felt burdensome and restricting. I wanted to experience the throw caution to the wind recklessness that is often portrayed in films. The unapologetic doing of ones own thing without regard for anyone or anything was super sexy to the teenage me and that’s the experience I dreamed of having one day.
Maturity didn’t remove the freedom-loving side of me but it brought ‘context’ to the experience. It became more about being authentic and well-intentioned. Doing the right thing, whatever that thing is. To me, my name became synonymous with my reputation, my identity and my brand. My intention has always been to conduct my businesses in a manner that demonstrated to my clients and others that I give a damn about the quality of my services. A good name matters to me.
This is nothing new, right? We’ve heard that someone ‘is only as good as their name’ referring to ones name recognition and reputation as being an indication of what you can expect from them. We’ve been told to do a job ‘that you can put your name on’, referring to your work being worthy enough to bring honor and respect to your name and reputation. Growing up, my grandfather, who was blind but could recite the entire Bible word for word (it was pretty amazing) would often quote Proverbs 22:1 “A good name is to be more desired than great wealth…” . This is still recognized to be true and people go through great pains to ensure that their name and reputation remain in tact. There are laws relating to libel and slander and people seek damages to right any wrongs to their name and reputation. It’s just that important.
Our name is not just a part of who we are — it IS who we are AND if popular phrases, like ‘you are who your friends are’ and ‘show me your friends and I will tell you who you are’, hold true, then it’s not just who we are but also who our friends and family are as well. That’s a lot of responsibility to carry around. A somewhat humorous example of the importance of ones name was demonstrated by a hip hop artist who recently (and unintentionally) tickled the internet’s funny-bone by demanding that a popular radio personality “put some res’pek on it” when using the Artist’s name. A funny, but no less determined effort to salvage the reputation of a name.
Having a ‘good name’ is relative to the individual and while it is important, it is not singularly most important. What do I mean? Well, it doesn’t in itself define who you are. I know, I know — now you sensing some contradiction, right? After all, I just said that it IS who you are! This is where that ‘context’ I mention earlier comes into focus. We have all heard of situations whereby someone has had their name dragged through the proverbial mud and the reputation they now hold is not reflective of who they are. Let’s say, that they were an innocent victim of slander on the internet, gravely besmirched. Are they now who this manufactured reputation suggests they are? Of course not. True reputation assigns value to intention. So while the perpetrators of such a plot would be worthy of whatever judgements come their way, the victims would hopefully over time have their good name cleared and restore their reputation. It is the right thing, the cosmic thing that should happen. Another example might be someone who falls victim to identity theft. After exposing the fraud and clearing the matter they should be reconciled with restored credit and any benefits related to being credit worthy…like buying a home (insert shameless real estate plug here).