Categorized | Opinion

Because Your Reputation Matters

By Mike T. SmithOpen Mike for web

A few weeks ago NASCAR racer Tony Stewart hit and killed Kevin Ward Jr. during a race on a dirt track in Canandaigua. For the record I don’t know much about Tony Stewart, and I don’t know anything about racing and how to handle a car at those speeds, so I’m not trying to play the expert on either. I’m also not passing judgement on anyone here. It’s not my place to do so.
The question everyone is asking: “Did Stewart do it on purpose?” I don’t know. No one will ever really know but Stewart himself. However on talk radio and on social media there were more people condemning him than there were defending him. It turns out he has a bit of a reputation of being a hot head. He has a recorded history of confrontations with other drivers, reporters and even had an incident where he threw his helmet at another driver. With that reputation people are jumping to the conclusion that what he did was intentional, or at the very least he was trying to get close enough to Ward to put a scare in him. This is why reputations are important. If he didn’t already have that reputation I believe more people would have given him the benefit of the doubt. It would flip the scales where more people would be defending him instead of passing quick judgement.
It’s common for people to walk around with a chip on their shoulder and say things like, “I don’t care what anyone thinks about me!” Heck, I said it when I was younger. I used to have an attitude. Well you should care, and this is a perfect example why. The reputation you build for yourself may be the deciding factor between someone fighting for you, or fighting against you.
This doesn’t mean that you’re not allowed to make mistakes. We’re all human. Making mistakes is part of life, especially when you’re trying to live a purposeful life. Just work to build the reputation as someone who is trying to do the right thing.
When I was in my early 20’s a wise lady gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever received, and now I’m passing it down to you. She told me that my reputation is what would matter in the end, so build a good one, because it may be what saves your butt later on. In the end, it’s all you have.
Mike T. Smith is a youth motivational speaker and author based out of Bartlett. For more info on Mike you can ask his mom or visit Go to the site, his mom’s phone is never charged. Email him at
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August 2014
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