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So Much Depends On Reputation - Guard It With Your Life

Reputation is the cornerstone of Power. Through reputation alone, you can intimidate and win; once it slips, however, you are vulnerable, and will be attacked on all sides. Make your reputation unassailable. Always be alert to potential attacks and thwart them before they happen. Meanwhile, learn to destroy your enemies by opening holes in their own reputations. Then stand aside and let public opinion bury them.

The people around us, including our closest friends, will always, to some extent, remain mysterious and unfathomable. Their characters have secret recesses, which they never reveal. The unknowableness of other people could prove disturbing, if we thought about it long enough, since it would make it impossible for us to judge other people. So, we prefer to ignore this fact, and judge people on their appearances, on what is most visible to our eyes - clothes, gestures, words, actions. In the social realm, appearances are the barometer of almost all of our judgements and you must never be misled into believing otherwise. One false slip, one awkward, or sudden change in your appearance, can prove disastrous.

For, as Cicero says, those who argue against fame still want the books they write against it to bear their name in the title and hope become famous for despising it. Everything else is subject to barter; we will let our friends have our goods and our lives, if needed; but a case of sharing our fame and making someone else the gift of our reputation is hardly to be found. - Montaigne, 1533-1592

This is the reason for the supreme importance of making and maintaining a reputation that is of your own creation.

That reputation will protect you in the dangerous game of appearances, distracting the probing eyes of others from knowing what you are truly like, and giving you a degree of control over how the world judges you - a powerful position to be in.

In the beginning, you must work to establish a reputation for one outstanding quality, whether generosity or honesty or cunning. This quality sets you apart and gets other people to talk about you. You then make your reputation known to as many people as possible (subtly; take care to build slowly, and with a firm foundation), and watch as it spreads like a wildfire.

It is easier to cope with a bad conscience than with a bad reputation. - Friedrich Nietzsche, 1844-1900

A solid reputation increases your presence and exaggerates you strengths, with requiring you to expend much energy. It can also create an aura around you that will instill respect, even fear. In the fighting in the North African desert, during World War ll, the German general, Erwin Rommel, had a reputation for cunning and for deceptive maneuvering, which struck terror into everyone, who faced him in battle. Even when his forces were depleted, and when the British tanks outnumbered his by a five to one ratio, entire cities would evacuate at the news of his approach.

Make your reputation simple and base it on one stirling quality. this single quality - efficiency, for example, or, seductiveness - becomes a kind of calling card that announces your presence and places others under a spell.

Imagine a mine full of diamonds and rubies. You dug for it, you found it, and your fortune is now assured. Guard it with your life. Robbers and thieves will appear from all sides. Never take your fortune for granted, and constantly renew it - time will diminish the jewel's luster, and bury them from sight.

Reputaion is a treasure to be carefully collected and hoarded. Especially when you are first establishing it, you must protect it strictly, anticipating all attacks on it. Once it is solidly established, do not allow yourself to get angry or defensive at the slanderous comments of your enemies - this reveals insecurity, not confidence in your reputation. Take the high road and never appear desperate in your self-defense. On the other hand, an attack on another man's reputation is a potent weapon, when you have less power than he. He has much more to lose in such a battle and your reputation gives him a smaller target, when he tries to return your fire. But this tactic must be practiced with skill; you must not seem to engage in petty vengeance. If you do not break your enemy's reputation cleverly, you will inadvertently ruin your own.

Therefore, I shall wish our courtier to bolster up his inherent worth with skill and cunning, and ensure whenever he must go where he is a stranger, he is proceeded by a good reputation. For the fame, which appears to depend on the opinions of many, fosters a certain unshakable belief in a man's worth, which is easily strengthened in the minds, which are already disposed and prepared. - Baldassare Castiglione, 1478-1529

Never go to far in your attacks, for that will draw more attention to your own vengefulness than to the person you are slandering. When your own reputation is solid, use more subtle tactics, such as satire and ridicule, to weaken your opponent, while making you out as a charming rogue. The mighty lion toys with the mouse that crosses his path - any other reaction would diminish his fearsome reputation.

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