If you’re a leader in politics, ministry, business, or in the media here’s something important you need to know: In today’s digital culture, you can’t hide anymore. In the old days, politicians could hide a mistress, TV evangelists could hide their jets or mansions, and anyone could hide a DUI conviction, an old arrest, and more. But today, the river of information that flows into Google is just too vast. That’s why I strongly recommend that if you’re in the public eye, you need to get mistakes and criticisms out there from the start.
For instance, in the last presidential election, if there was any truth to the media’s adultery allegations, I believe candidate Herman Cain could have overcome them had he been the first to bring it up. Once you “expose” yourself, you take away the ammo from attackers.
I recommend the same with criticism and Texas governor Rick Perry is doing this very well. After his indictment based on the allegations that he abused power with a veto last summer, he’s turning that situation in his favor. He’s created t-shirts with his mug shot as well as the democratic district attorney who was convicted of drunken driving – and he’s using it for fundraising.
Whether you like Rick Perry or not isn’t the issue. But it’s important to note that he’s taken his “negative” and turned it into something “positive.”
The lesson here?
1) Be transparent. Stop thinking about Google as just “search,” and start thinking about Google as “reputation management.” You can’t hide anymore and you can’t avoid critics.
2) Stop trying to hide your past, your mistakes, your failures – or even criticism. By getting them out there first, you effectively eliminate that ammunition from your critics. Even if the criticism is off base, if it’s gaining momentum, stop running from it and start using it.
If you tell the truth upfront, it becomes a part of your past. If you try to hide it, it becomes a part of your future.