Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Stock You Can Count On

As the financial world and the stock market seems to be crumbling around us by the minute, it got me thinking about the word "stock". The dictionary lists 39 entries of the noun "stock". Some of the most notable include "the share of capital held by an individual investor", "a supply of goods for sale, kept on the premises by a store or business" and " a theater company's repertoire of plays". (In my mind, these three seemed to fit together!)

But the meaning of "stock" that has the most, well, meaning to me is when stock is used to define someone's standing and reputation. I once had someone say about me that "Greg thinks his reputation is much greater than it actually is." Now mind you this person didn't have the balls to tell me that to my face––I heard it from someone else. And he had known me for all of maybe 2-3 months and not very well at that. (My Wife thought he looked like someone who had a collection of child pornography. Which after she told me that, it was as clear to me as the cheesy, '80's porno-moustache on his upper lip that she was dead on in her assessment!).

Reputations are a tricky thing. They can be built on a single instance, over time or created by others who may never even meet us face-to-face. They can take years to build––on the positive side––and an instant to destroy. Think of the phrase "his reputation preceeds him". That can be good or bad. Reputations can be entirely fabricated. Is there someone you met whose reputation was the exact opposite of what you thought or was told? (Go back to your high school days for that one!)

When I was choosing my team of doctors and a hospital for my treatment of cancer, I had to do my homework. Who were the reputable doctors? What hospital was in good standing for cancer care and treatment? Was Hopkins really better than UPenn or the hundreds of others across the country? What about the radical treatment my Sister-In-Law received in Mexico? Doesn't Farrah Fawcett get treatment in Germany? Yeah, lots to think about. Lots of uncertainty. Lots of information to sort through. Lots of reputations to sift through. Not a lot of time when you are diagnosed with cancer. Time is not your friend. Time is what you're trying to save, not waste.

Who could I count on? Who would make my family feel comfortable. Hell, who would treat my family with care, respect and understanding. So I did the only thing I knew. I relied on the one person whose reputation and standing on issues of trust, respect, compassion, knowledge and understanding I could count on.

I put stock in myself. Because my "internal" reputation had been built over a period of time of making good decisions, honest decisions, decisions that took into account not only myself but those who I love and the effect it had on them. Did I invest in the right stock?

You bet I did.

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