In July 2010, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) launched a national public awareness campaign, “If You See Something, Say Something™.” This slogan reinforces the need for Americans to be vigilant and cognizant of suspicious activity which should be immediately reported to the appropriate state and local law enforcement authorities.
It’s rather simple. If you see something peculiar or out of the ordinary, say something. This does not only apply to terrorism and/or violent crime activities, but anything and everything related to our personal and professional lives.
Had Joe Paterno and the officials at Penn State acted expeditiously, one of the most prominent universities in America would not be embroiled in a reputation-shattering public relations fiasco. Zeroing in on Paterno, the man’s legacy – built on 50-plus years of football coaching success – is forever tarnished, along with his records. Even the iconic 7-foot, 900-pound statue of him was symbolically removed on Sunday from the university’s football stadium.
Building a rock-solid reputation – as a person, professional or brand – takes years of hard work and consistency. There are always hard choices and circumstances, but doing the right thing is critical to your credibility. It’s about being honest and having the guts to stand up for something that is true to your convictions, often times challenging those in power, such as a boss, client or family member.
As we have seen with Paterno and the executive administrators at Penn State, the decision not to act has severely and irreparably impacted their respective legacies, at least in our lifetime.
Read part two of my See Something? Say Something! post.