Soldiers love to tell stories. Cavalrymen tell some of the best stories. A lot of the stories I have heard start with, “I knew a guy who knew a guy…” Sometimes we listen to the story and we’re not sure how true it actually is. But it’s interesting just the same. Usually the story describes a guy someone knew who either did something awesome, hilarious, or really stupid. We may never know the person in the story, but his reputation is at the very heart of the story. And we go away either admiring or shaking our head at the person.

A person’s reputation is built upon a person’s actions – either one major action or a pattern of actions. Ever heard the phrase, “his reputation precedes him?” It means that others have heard about the person before he arrives and many in the group already have an impression of the guy – either good or bad, before they even meet him. May not sound fair but that’s the way it works. When you hear “don’t be THAT guy,” you know what that means. It means “don’t screw up!” What you want is to be the OTHER guy who succeeds and is squared away! An old children’s magazine I used to read was called “Highlights.” In every issue there was a comic about two boys named “Goofus” and “Gallant.” It used contrasting pictures to show how we should and should not act in certain situations. Gallant was always doing the right thing while Goofus couldn’t seem to do anything right.

When you look in the mirror every morning what do you see? A Goofus or a Gallant? To be honest, I see a little of both in my mirror. While I’d love to think I am totally squared away, I can assure you I am not. Overall, though – and with the Grace of God, I see more of a Gallant than a Goofus. I try really hard not to be “THAT guy,” whose sorry reputation precedes him. When someone tells of a guy who knew a guy who knew me, I want it to be about something good. Why? Even though I am far from perfect, I care about doing my best. I care about my character and my name. I am adopted and I want to be a credit to my father’s name. As a Christian, I want to be a credit to my Heavenly Father’s Name. I take pride in myself and in my reputation. I know and understand the Army Values and I do my best to live them. I’m not better than anyone. I just am trying to be the best me I can be.

What about you? When they tell of a guy who knew a guy who knew you, what will it be about? For something “goofus” or for something “gallant?” Reputations are huge. But very few people’s reputations will be based on some huge accomplishment. Most people’s good reputations are built over a long period of time by a steady series of the right actions and attitudes. Start building your good reputation now, if you haven’t done so already.


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