Deb Sofield


Live in such a way that if anyone should speak badly of you no one would believe it

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My friends send me email jokes and cartoons all the time; in fact I had a few friends I had to ask to put me on the weekly list and not the daily emails. I have no idea what they do all day that allows them to surf the web and send their network 20-30 jokes and stories all day-but good for them.

A while back I get this one and I liked it…it said, Live in such a way that if anyone should speak badly of you no one would believe it.

Wouldn’t that be great? What if you and I were so well known to be good people that if anyone were to say a bad word about us, no one would believe them? I think that is a goal worth striving for – to know that our reputation is so stellar that, like water off a duck’s back, no one would believe we’d do such a thing that is being said about us

When I was thinking about this line, a few other great quotes came to mind like:

You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do. – Henry Ford 

It takes a lifetime to build a good reputation, but you can lose it in a minute. – Will Rogers

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless. – Mother Teresa

The end result of kindness is that it draws people to you. – Anita Roddick

Be it resolved…trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement. – Golda Meir

Speak when you’re angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret. – Ambrose Bierce
Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you say. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

But I like the simplicity of this thought. Between the two of us I am sure that we do our best to live a good life. I don’t know about you, but as I’ve gotten older I have slowed down and now I take my time instead of rushing in where angels fear to tread (and where I know nothing about the issue).

I’ve worked hard to learn to listen more and talk less. I’ve learned to give most people the benefit of the doubt. I’ve gotten softer in my approach to issues than when I was younger. Oh, the benefits of wisdom that come with age.

I have lived a good part of my life in the public eye, so I knew early on that I needed to live, as we say in church circles, above reproach. That means that I must be blameless and conduct my affairs in a right and proper manner. And for me it was not just the living in the bright light of public office but also for the reputation of my family and friends. No doubt I have made some great errors and mistakes so that even I look back and think, “What was I thinking?” But lately I have begun to think about the legacy I am leaving.

How about you? Putting aside your mistakes and missteps, how do you think you are being thought of or remembered? Or have you thought about how you’d like to be remembered? I’m sure that as the years tick by we all probably begin to look back (as well as forward) in thinking about how we’re leave a lasting legacy.

A true story: one thing I have found, because I was such a talker when I was younger, is that sometimes people ascribed to me things I did not say – shocking but true. And when I discover that has happened, I have become bold enough to pick up the phone and ask for clarification and then listen to the sputtering back-up of the comment that I supposedly said.

There was a time when I would let things slide and chalk it up to their dishonesty and not let it bother me because I knew it was untrue. That is until a dear friend told me how disappointed she was in what I had supposedly said to others about a speech she had given. For the record, I never made the comment. So at that moment I picked up the phone and called the rumor starter. I told her who I was sitting with and asked for an explanation of the comment that she had made. Her response was that she thought she heard me or maybe she just misunderstood and really she was just joking. Sufficient to say and I am proud to tell you that she has never misquoted me since. And my friend apologized for not being secure enough in our friendship to know I would not have said anything unkind about her to others.

Truthfully my feelings were hurt because I really thought my actions of Live in such a way that if anyone should speak badly of you no one would believe it would have spoken for themselves. That brings me to the thought that even though we strive to live a positive life and be good people, even good friends will fail you because for some, who even know better, it is so hard to trust.

My friend and I are fine today, in fact our friendship is stronger than ever. But truthfully, in an odd way, we both were rocked by that incident years ago. It made clear the value to both of us that living a life at peace and in harmony is really the best way to live.

And I learned a big lesson in that uncomfortable position. In fact, I learned two that I would like to share with you. The first lesson is sometimes when a friendship is on the line (in my case a dear friend), or you’re simply being questioned, or your reputation is being questioned, you have the right and responsibility to speak up and take action against those who are doing damage to you. You cannot allow others to do harm to you, or your friends and family. Just because someone talks too much, or they want to be funny and hurtful in an odd sort of way, or they simply want to be the center of attention does not make the behavior okay. In today’s world you need to speak up and defend your honor, your name, your family and your friends.

The second lesson I learned very quickly that day was if it is worth fighting for, fight hard. My friend didn’t expect me to pick up the phone and make the call to the offending chatterbox. Had I been in the wrong, she would have accepted my apology and we would have been fine, but the fact is I wasn’t wrong and I didn’t say anything that was unkind. Now I’m pretty sure the offender never expected me to call her out for what she had said, but I was not about to be wounded because of someone else’s selfish actions.

Yes, I know today’s topic is a little unusual for an encouragement for your life segment. However, if you want to be an encouragement to others, sometimes you’ve got let them know that you stand up for them-you defend them and you’re not going to allow others to tear them down.

It sounds like Jr. High all over again but because everyone is so sensitive nowadays sometimes we need to come out swinging to protect those we love and care for. And we need to keep working on our reputation so if anyone should speak badly of you no one would believe it.

So how do we work on our reputation here are Deb’s Rules to Remember:

  1. Tell the truth
  2. Keep your word
  3. Pay your debts
  4. Be loyal
  5. Show compassion
  6. Put your family first (even the ones you don’t like)
  7. Make right things that are broken
  8. Give credit where credit is due
  9. Always do the right thing (even when no one is watching)
  10. Be good and kind to others (including animals)
Because I think it is important that we, Live in such a way that if anyone should speak badly of you no one would believe it.

Deb Sofield

Deb Sofield is a Keynote Speaker, Author of the book, Speak without Fear – Rock Star Presentation Skills to get People to Hear What You Say and Encouragement For Your Life ~ Tough Love Memos to Help You Fight Your Battles and Change the World, Radio Talk Show Host in the Salem Network, Podcaster and President of her own Executive Speech Coaching Co., which trains women and men for success in speaking, crisis communications, presentation skills, media and message development in the U.S. and abroad.

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