Our delusion of grandeur regarding our own moral reputation is probably more a case of wishful thinking than reality. But wishful thinking won’t do it. A good reputation is acquired by no other means than consistent, virtuous living. Good repute follows good character. Once gained, a good reputation must be jealously guarded. One lie can contradict an honest witness. One act of indiscretion can collapse a lifetime of ethical living. One dark secret brought out into the light can destroy a good name.
A reputation is a difficult thing to establish but such an easy thing to extinguish. The only way to have and keep a good reputation is to actually be a good person. Any other way is wishful thinking.