I was talking to a friend of mine many weeks ago when I brought up a famous personality that my friend liked. Or at least he had always liked this guy until one day he was privy to something had hadn’t expected.

It was an interview of this guy by someone much younger. And, it seems because the interviewer was much younger, this guy was talking to him at a level that he must have felt would resonate with this guy’s audience. This involved a lot of tasteless language that, in my friend’s eyes, was antithetical to the message that this man had been putting out to the world for almost 30 years. In his eyes, it diminished the credibility of this man, and even though it didn’t totally invalidate his life’s work, it made the man seem less than what he had been.

I’ve dealt with that in my life as well. One of my childhood heroes, not an athlete, someone who I supported for decades when I’d kind of heard other things, did one thing that I just couldn’t forgive, then kept compounding it time and time again after the fact. First I was hurt, then deeply hurt, then angered. I felt as though many things I believed in were all lies. Of course, once again it’s hard to negate the good things this man has done over the course of his life, but I’m no longer a fan, as I feel this man has tarnished his reputation, or what’s left of it.

I bring these things up because most of us have had this type of thing thrown in our faces at some point in our lives. It never feels good, and we often feel betrayed. Sometimes they’re relatively small things, and we’ll let them go and move on, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But often one person’s small thing is another person’s big deal.

Some years ago I went to a networking event at a local restaurant. There was someone there whom I hadn’t met before, and she was having a good time. She kept having a better time as she kept drinking, and within 90 minutes she was all over the place. Her husband showed up and you could tell that he’d seen this type of behavior from her before. For the rest of us, we weren’t quite sure what to do with her; I didn’t stay much longer once she’d lost even more control.

The thing is that she worked for a local bank, and whereas there are professions where others might have looked the other way, when it comes to our money we tend to be less forgiving. She was gone from that bank within a few weeks, and I never saw her again. I don’t know what happened, and since I didn’t know her name I never even thought to ask.

If we sometimes get this feeling from people that we either liked or someone of a certain stature who makes an egregious error, how do you think others feel when it might be us doing something like that? As a kid, there was one thing my dad always told me. He said that I could go out into the world and try to do almost anything, and he hoped that I would succeed, but to never bring shame onto the family; he meant him and my mother at the time.

I’ve always carried that with me, sometimes probably to an extreme. I always figure that almost no matter where I am, I’m making a first impression on someone. I always want that impression to be as positive as possible, unless I’m supposed to be something otherwise, such as a disgruntled customer. Even then, I’m always in control, even when I don’t want to be. That’s because later on, I don’t want to be second guessing my own behavior.

If we’re always trying to be the best we can be, people will forgive you your foibles here and there. But if you’re not even trying, they’ll see you for what you are, a phony; and most people don’t like phonies.