In my first Fleet Squadron, VFA-192, the World Famous Golden Dragons, back in 1992 (not to date myself too bad), I had an instructor and friend, "Otter" McNease, who always used to say, "Don't get cocky, your only as good as your next (carrier) landing."
Back then, I used to laugh at him. But that was because I really didn't get it.
In youth, you are SO worried about building a reputation, that you forget that you need to create your future. What Otter was trying to tell me was that your value to the world doesn't come from what you've done, but what you can and will do in the future.
Unfortunately, many people spend their entire lives and never learn this very powerful lesson. The world around us is changing - we must look forward if we want to provide value in it.
That's not to say that your past - your reputation - does provide some indication of what you can do in the future, but like they say on all the Investment Ads, "Past performance is no guarantee for future returns."
So, stop resting on your laurels. You may have been great yesterday, and good today, but if you are NOT "actively trying" to be better tomorrow, then you are most likely not going to be. And if you aren't trying to be better tomorrow, why should I believe that you have any more value to me.
Last night, there was a race between Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) and CNN (@CNNbrk) each trying to be the first to a Million followers on Twitter. Ashton Kutcher won, but that doesn't matter. Truth is, neither up to this point warrants that kind of glorification - they haven't provided the secret to life or answered the all important question, "Did Lee Harvey Oswald act alone?" But they created a fanfare and it has paid off for both of them.
Problem is, if they can't deliver on their promise - the implied promise of adding value to their follower's lives - then it won't do any good. And their followership will fall off. Remember, it has little to do with what they have said, and everything to do with what they are going to say.
Remember this little life lesson, the next time you start to believe your Headlines. It's not what you did yesterday, but what you can do tomorrow that provides real value in today's world.