This past weekend I had someone at church introduce themself to me. We knew of each other, but we had never met formally. I thought that was very nice.
This person came to ask me a question because he wanted to know if I was related to another Calisti he had known in the past. It actually turned out to be a late uncle of mine. His opinion of my uncle and his son (my late cousin) was positive. He spoke highly of them.
This got me thinking as usual.
It is very important to me to have a good name. This is an age old virtue that seemed to be more important to our ancestors than it does to us now. Perhaps I’m wrong – I hope I’m wrong. So three points came to mind as I considered the value of having a good name.
When people hear my last name, I enjoy that they know or knew another family member of mine. It makes a good icebreaker when introduced. If they think fondly of another family member of mine (alive or not) then that makes the initial connection even easier. In other words, if they felt that a family member of mine was a good or reputable person, then perhaps they’ll extend that same respect to me initially.
I’ve said on many occasions that the only thing I really own is my name. Yes, I own a few computers, furniture and other office supplies that facilitate my practice; however, the most important thing that I own is my name. It is very important to me that a positive reaction or thought come to people’s minds when they hear my name – specifically if they know me. I value their opinion of the experience of working together – I would want it to be positive and one where I brought them value and delight.
This has been driven home to me on multiple occasions living in a small community. There are a few names that come up occasionally in business situations that seem to be mentioned in a negative connotation. In fact this experience happened yesterday. I’m not in favor of gossip or acting unprofessional, so I don’t repeat it or encourage that discussion to continue. Nevertheless, frequently hearing negative comments from multiple people on multiple occasions about the same person makes one question the truth of the rumors.
I can’t afford that. I don’t want that. That is not of a trait I wish associated with my name.
I value my name and I value the reputation I’ve spent so long to build. I think about what would my father think of how I’m carrying his name if he were alive to hear it. Therefore, everything that has my name on it or my firm name on it has to be the highest caliber that I can do at that particular moment and situation. The same goes for my behavior.
There have been many times when I have been in a hurry (or feeling lazy) that I needed to get something off my desk and out the door. I had to stop myself, correct or improve the document because I just couldn’t rest with the fact that something with my name on it was not the best I could produce.
My wife and I work hard at raising our son – who happens to be a remarkable boy who is exceptional in school. As he does his schoolwork or is in situations where his name is associated with something he’s done it’s important that he learn early what a reputation means. I’ve spoken with him on occasions at those ‘teaching moments’ what it is to defend your name. In simple terms even his homework has to be his best. It should be neat, complete and it should represent his best effort regardless of whether he gets all of the answers correct. His mother is a teacher so she keeps him in line.
This same virtue is taught in my studio. My students need to take the same care and value of their work (which represents themselves) no matter whether they’re doing a quick sketch or a semester long project. This is why I feel architects need to have nice hand-lettering and nice sketching ability. It represents the person and it represents our profession.
So what’s in a name – to me everything. It’s all I own.