Integrity and Association

person shaking hands

I went over to my Father’s house the other day, it was and still is, a part of my ritual with him. I go over to check on him, see how he’s been doing, make sure he’s okay, and do some catching up. It’s good for the both of us really.

My Dad mentioned “Andy” to me. He’s the guy that got both barrels from my Dad after my Mom’s funeral. Apparently, “Andy’s” ex-wife “Bobbie-Jo,” committed suicide a little while back. Their sixteen year old daughter found her mom hanging from a noose in the coat closet. I remember “Bobbie-Jo,” she’s around my age now, and she was a really good looking woman when I last saw her years ago. Tragic and sad. Tragic and really sad that it was her daughter that found her the way she found her.

“Andy” is in the upholstery business. One of the best upholsterer’s in this area. I know because I’ve seen his work first hand. Some of this work happens to be some of the seats in some of my Dad’s cars. His work is topnotch.

I’ve got to back up just a little bit. My Dad has been a car restoring aficionado for almost all of his life. Definitely all of my life. Some of my earliest memories of my Dad is him tinkering and restoring cars and trucks. I also remember him creating all sorts of new and creative swear words when something didn’t go as planned or was more difficult than expected. I also remember seeing the occasional tool getting thrown across the garage from time to time.

So my Dad has been doing the car restoration thing for at least fifty years. Maybe longer. My Dad knows his stuff and is very knowledgable about it. Car aficionado’s from all over the state know my Dad. They drop by to ask his advice about particular problems and ways to solve them. My Dad has also helped a lot of these guys restore their cars, or he has done it by himself for them. He’s always been forthright and honest in his dealings with this community of men. That’s one of the reason’s that they come to him, in some cases look up to him, and respect him. Not to toot my Dad’s horn, but when he’s got something to say about car restoration, these guys shut up and listen.

Now back to “Andy…..”

Like I said earlier, “Andy” is a class A upholsterer. His work is some of the finest I’ve ever seen. He uses quality materials and takes great care in his work. He doesn’t come cheap, and his work shows it.

No one questions the quality of “Andy’s” work.

But “Andy” does have a problem. He quotes a price for doing a job, and when it comes time to to pay up, the price has changed from his original quote. Significantly. I’m not talking about an extra fifty or even an extra hundred dollars. I’m talking about a price quote of $800.00 that ends up at $3,400.00 by the time all is said and done. How do I know about this quote and the end price? That’s what he charged my Dad the last time he did work for my Dad. Also “Andy” is horrible about meeting deadlines. What starts off as “a month or so” turns into almost a year.

My Dad isn’t the only person “Andy” has done this to. My Dad started naming a few other men that I happen to know that “Andy” charged way more than originally quoted. As far as my Dad is concerned, “Andy” is ripping people off. So he won’t use “Andy” anymore to do any of his upholstery needs. My Dad also stopped referring people to “Andy” as well. He doesn’t want to see other guys get ripped off, and he doesn’t want his name and reputation tarnished by what “Andy” is doing. He doesn’t want to been seen as endorsing “Andy’s” behavior.

“Andy” used to run his own upholstery business full time. Used to. Now days, he’s working for another business and moonlighting on weekends and evening’s doing upholstery. Why not full time? Because of his reputation.

As a Man, and this applies if you are going to go into business, your most important asset is your reputation. Your word is your bond. If you say you are going to do something, you do it. If you screw up, and we all do, you do what you can to make amends and make things right. “Andy” didn’t learn this lesson, which is why he has no repeat business.

You do something right, and the person you did right by will tell 10 people. You do wrong by somebody, they will go out and tell a thousand.

Perception is reality. How you are perceived is what is real to another person. Who you associate with reflects back on you.

Here’s another story about perception and association…

I grew up with a guy who had friends that were in a gang. Now this guy wasn’t in the gang himself, but he hung out with gangsters. One day, he was shot in the back by a guy wielding a twelve gauge shotgun in a drive by. The gangbanger’s didn’t care that he wasn’t actually in the gang, it was guilt by association. The guy recovered, but didn’t end his association with his gang friends.

Several years later, another incident happened. This time, the guy’s girlfriend ended up as a casualty. Unfortunately for her, she died. Apparently some rival gang members tried and botched a hit on the guy that I knew and she ended up caught in the crossfire. All because of who he associated with.

As a Man, be careful, or mindful, or conscious, or whatever other description you want to throw in here, of who you associate or attach yourself with or to. Guilt by association is a real thing. This goes for real life associations as well as online associations.

At the end of the day, if you are associating with someone who is doing something dishonest or something questionable, what does that say about you? What do you think other’s are going to think about you? If you don’t care, that’s fine. Don’t be surprised when people start distancing themselves from you though. Don’t be surprised when your business suffers because of who or what you are associating with. Perception is reality and guilt by association is a real thing. And sometimes you won’t be able to repair or recover your reputation. In fact, you may just take on a new reputation. A reputation that doesn’t work for you, but works against you.

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