Do you really know what each of your family members think of you? How about your best friend? What about your other friends and co-workers? Or, the people you meet at church or the organizations to which you belong?

I hope you’re getting my point. As you get further and further away from the core of people who know you the longest and interact with you the most and on the deepest level, it gets harder and harder to tell what other people think of you, particularly on matters that may be critical but are infrequently discussed.

So if it’s difficult to know what people who love and depend on you think, it’s really impossible to know what people who are just entering your life or dealing with you on a superficial level think.

Do they like you? Will they trust you? Are they willing to spend time or resources to get to know you better? if you have a problem, would they be willing to help you? And if you are in business, will they buy from you?

The list of questions is endless but people’s reaction to them and their attitude toward you could result in something you highly covet or something that rises your fear level to DEFCON 4, regardless of whether those attitudes are based on facts, suppositions, guesses, possibilities, misinformation, misleading information, assumptions, deductions or even possibly… just downright lies.

The problem is there are just too many outlets and too many choices, few of which are under your control but nevertheless control or highly influence what people think and how they react that results in whether you date the person you’re crazy about, land the job of your dreams, close the deal of a lifetime or get accepted to the club, sorority or fraternity of your choice.

Good News! There is something you can do about it.

It won’t be fast, it may not be easy and it will cost some money but if you follow my advice, you’ll greatly improve the odds of achieving all you hope to accomplish, in the shortest time possible to enjoy the fruits of a happy and productive life.

Control the Narrative

Everyone has a story and obviously some stories are a lot more interesting than others. But, whatever your story, you can tell it in a way that is more compelling… and a more compelling story means it is more likely to be listened to, remembered and it may even exert some level of influence so it is immeasurably most important that it be the story you want people to know and not a story of someone else’s creation or someone else’s interpretation that may be more compelling than yours but a lot less flattering.

What Consequences Come From How We Live?

We didn’t pitch the third strike that won The World Series, we didn’t find a cure for cancer, discover a cheap, efficient and clean source of energy, write a hit song or set in motion the forces that would bring about world peace or end hunger. But to us, even the little things we accomplish are pretty monumental. Things like graduating from college, getting a job, falling in love, raising a family or just helping a friend with a problem.

We Affect a lot of People Every Day

Did you ever stop to think how you may have affected a child’s life when after he strikes out with two men on base you placed your arm around his shoulder and explained that all, not some, of the greatest home run hitters were also the players who struck out the most; that the gift you gave a little girl to buy her first pair of ice skates was the inspiration for her to pursue her dream of becoming a gold medalist in some future Olympics; that the job you offered to an inexperienced recent graduate because you were more impressed with his integrity, drive and determination than his academic background or the university he attended may have put him on a career path to success; or the kind words you shared to help your neighbor’s daughter get over her first romantic breakup lessened her heartache and gave her a renewed sense of hope that she’ll find a new and more committed romantic partner?

It is the Little Things that Count

These may be little things but they define our character and make us who we are and explain why others are either attracted or repelled by the sum of those characteristics. It’s why other people deliberately choose to be with us, either for a specific purpose for a short period of time or, find us so compelling that they want to share their life with us forever, even after they learn of our imperfections, shortcomings, foibles and weaknesses.

But all of those wonderful traits mentioned above are either known facts about us or false perceptions that are accepted as truths based upon some type of inadvertently or intentionally misleading narrative.

Regardless of what is the real or perceived truth… that is your reputation. And to a great extent, it’s your reputation that will determine the people you come into contact with and the opportunities that arise from those connections and eventually what you do to maximize those opportunities to lead a fulfilling, meaningful, productive and happy life.

In this regard, I guess you could compare your reputation to a supercar. It sleek lines, powerful engine, technological advancements and adrenaline pumping exhilaration create images of exciting destinations accompanied by one highly desirable passenger and the drive magnifies the anticipation because you and you alone are controlling all that power.

But if that drive is going to be fun and that fun is going to be fueled by anticipation of some yet to be fulfilled fantasy, you must realize it’s going to take a lot of skill to get to that destination quickly, enjoyably, safely and without some police officer stopping you and issuing you a summons or whisking your butt to jail without passing GO and without collecting $200.