Working Through The Pain of Being Watched After Our Reputation Crisis

Reputation Specialist Essays
4 min readMar 8, 2021

People are watching and scrutinizing you after you’ve been given a second chance to be in a relationship — professional or personal. I think we often forget that because we’re focused on our relief to be restored with some level of trust and opportunity. This essay’s purpose is to serve as a reminder.

There is a recent story from which we can briefly discuss as an example.

It’s about a professional in the sports industry, yet the lesson is not really about sports as it is about egregious error, consequences, punishment and showing resilience, regardless of someone’s profession or personal relationships.

In the MSN article, Given a second chance, Red Sox manager Alex Cora seeks to move on — and learn from his past, writer Alex Speier details the second act of Cora after he was no longer working due to his involvement in a cheating scandal with the Houston Astros back in 2017, which led to Cora’s reputation, despite his success in Boston, becoming stained.

Losing his job and status had to be a gut punch to the ego as much as the loss of the paycheck and ability to do what he loved and where he loved to do that work.

The hard questions were asked of Cora then and now and they will continue to be asked of him, likely for much longer than he imagines. Yet, he sounds prepared unlike most in his situation who get annoyed at having to answer to the past.

“That’s my reality,” Cora said. “I have to deal with it. I’m ready to deal with it. My family is ready to deal with it. Are we going to have obstacles or bad days? One hundred percent . . .”

He gets it. The expectation of continued access and answers will be present. People will not always come across as respectful. Cora, like many people, might feel he’s answered enough, expressed himself fully and been remorseful. And then someone will go right back and ask him about the scandal and his involvement again. He has to be prepared.

Prepared for what? To be sincere and respond (not react) with humble answers, given with sustained poise, maybe for years.

Cora’s reputation restoration quality will largely be determined by how well he learns what is specifically wanted and expected, accepts it even if he disagrees with it and how skillfully and consistently he delivers on those expectations.

As he admits freely and wisely, “I was out of the game for the wrong reasons, and deservedly so,” Cora said. “Moving forward, I’m not going to hide it.”

That’s the proper attitude and vision looking forward and if he can show, with words and actions, commitment to it, he will surely benefit. He will earn empathy, in time. It’s important to keep that in mind.

People don’t want to hear excuses and arrogance, like Lance Armstrong. They want to know we’ve learned from the errors of our thinking and deeds and see us humbled, sincerely remorseful and willing to slowly climb back up the ladder by making right with your past and making right with other people. Forgiveness is possible and even, in most (but not all) situations, likely.

Cora doesn’t see his way back to cleaning up his name and reputation as some form of or need for redemption.

“I don’t see it that way. I made a mistake, I paid the price, and now I’m here . . . I just made a mistake in ’17 and paid the price in 2020. That’s it,” he said. “That’s part of my story. It’s going to be with me the rest of my career. I will deal with that. I know that.”

While what Cora did was more than a “mistake,” his point about what happened being a part of his story is being socially aware. It’s true. That error in judgment, decision-making and behavior will be tattooed on his name and reputation for the rest of his career.

Yet, the good news is ‘possibility’: there is great opportunity for that error and scandal to only be a smaller part of the whole and over time, a smaller and smaller one if Cora, like any other person or organization, realizes what he must do and then does it, fully, with the right attitude of sustained humility, patience, poise, transparency and conducting himself in the “right way” from here forward, showing only his best character in private and public.

Cora, to his credit, is willing to discuss his past with free agents who might be upset about that which Cora was involved.

“If they want to know more, or if they have something to tell me, my office is open,” Cora said. “There are going to be people that agree with me coming back, people that don’t agree.”

Being watched and judged, disliked, distrusted is not easy to endure. Yet it doesn’t have to last forever with most of our critics. Some will never forgive any offense. Most of our offenses are forgivable.

We can overcome our errors if we are willing to show we will stand in there and take the criticism, recognize the emotions and doubt, know why people are upset and then navigate that with full emotionally intelligence and patience. With this commitment, the scrutiny often fades.

Michael Toebe is a specialist who helps individuals and organizations with further building, protecting, restoring or reconstructing reputation. He is the founder of,, and and author of “Your Reputation Signature: What It Is, Why It Matters and How to Protect, Restore and Reconstruct It,” available on Amazon.

(Image courtesy of Pixabay)



Reputation Specialist Essays

Michael Toebe is the founder and specialist at Reputation Quality, a consultancy, advisory, coaching and communications services practice.