A Man Should Guard His Reputation With His Life

It is easier to cope with a bad conscience than a bad reputation

Friedrich Nietzsche

During the War of Three Kingdoms in ancient China, a fearsome general by the name of Chuko Liang made a terrible tactical blunder. He had sent his massive army to a small town while he relaxed in another small town, with a mere handful of soldiers. News soon reached Liang that enemies forces under general Sima Yi—over 150,000 strong—were headed to the town he was staying in. He surely would be captured if he tried to feebly resist the enemy, so he tried an unconventional approach that relied entirely on his reputation.


Chuko Liang

Liang—for himself—was known as the “Sleeping Dragon” and feared throughout China. He was renowned for his tact, perceptiveness, and cunning. He had many legendary tales and exploits that were well-known through kingdoms. He had once sown rumors about a powerful general who was allied with one his enemies—he managed to convince the enemy the general was a traitor and forced the general to join forces with Liang. He had turned would-be traitors into double agents, he had stolen military seals and forged documents that sent enemies forces to random, distant locations. All these exploits lead Liang to be seen as the most clever man in all of China.

In this instance, Yi had an extensive history with Liang, as he had battled him on multiple occasions. So, when he approached the city that Liang was holed up in, he wasn’t shocked to see what he saw. Liang had thrown the gates of the city open, and he alone sat above the gate, clad in Taoist robes, strumming his lute and chanting Taoist rhymes. Yi knew that Liang was taunting him, forcing him to make a decision as to whether Liang was bluffing or luring Yi into a trap.

Yi looked at Liang for some time, hoping to get a read on Liang. He either falsely read Liang or dared not risk the downside of entering the city, as he ordered his troops to retreat.

This tale shows the supreme power of reputation. A general with barely 100 men was able to turn away over a hundred thousand soldiers solely because of his reputation for being supremely devious and crafty. Yi—most likely—was more worried about being yet another victim of Liang’s clever machinations than an easy capture of an enemy general. Liang’s reputation was so strong that he could bluff his way out of a sure capture at the hands of his enemies.

Reputation is essential to any man’s success in society. Our success and advancement in society necessarily hinges on other’s estimations of us. Only a fool or a rube would ignore his reputation; it is one of the most important intangible resources. As seen with Chuko Liang, sheer reliance on his reputation saved him from certain capture at the hands of his enemies.


Greene counsels that a man should, first, seek to a reputation for one personal quality, say honesty or seductiveness, and build a sterling, rock-solid reputation on that quality. A man who has too many irons in the fire is most likely to burn himself, but by focusing on one personal quality, a man can set himself apart from the crowd and get noticed by others. Further, he advises that a man should be as subtle as possible in cultivating his reputation so not as to bring too much attention on his ambition.

Once a reputation is established, it becomes a sort of passive income, as your reputation precedes you and you need to exert less effort building it. It can create an atmosphere around you that can inspire—for example—fear or devotion. It opens doors, heads confrontations off at the pass and brings nothing but benefits, at least when it is positive.

Reputation can prove to be an inescapable albatross if you cultivate a negative reputation. For example, consider Roosh’s forum. The forum has attracted all manner of liars, deceivers and dishonest miscreants. Just like in real life, a foul stench quickly attaches to men who engage in negative behaviors such as fabrication and lying. People can respect men who start from the bottom and work to better their life. What people can’t respect is those who lie about their life or personality, such as lies about the quality of women they are bedding or lying about personal accomplishments and success.

Positive or negative, reputation is absolutely crucial to a man’s success. As seen with Chuko Liang, his reputation may have very well saved his life. For the average man, reputation doesn’t so much save his life so much as it helps build it—or tear it down. But focusing on developing at least one obvious and demonstrable positive personal quality, man can establish a reputation that precedes. So long as a man avoids curating a negative reputation, he can benefit from attention that comes from being known for positive personal qualities.

Read More: Never Break Bread With The Ungrateful

45 thoughts on “A Man Should Guard His Reputation With His Life”

  1. Good advice and I remember reading Greene’s 48 laws back when I was 18 yrs old.
    I also think that having a kind of “negative” reputation that results in you being seen as totally infamous can work to your advantage as well.
    As Machiavelli said…it is better to be feared than loved. Fear lasts longer…..perhaps and especially with women whose love is as changing and fickle as the winds.

  2. Building a reputation is one of the most important elements of being a real man.
    How you choose to build that reputation, is truly based on how we as individuals live in this society. Remember, there are many villains who will try to destroy your reputation because they can profit from it, or simply, just for the enjoyment. We live in a very sick world where people are psychopaths and sociopaths and the degeneracy of our society will make you want to protect your reputation more than ever.
    Women will always try to emulate Kim Kardashian or some other low life degenerate because women have no concept of building a true reputation. Whereas men, we must take responsibility to create a positive reputation and must always, learn to protect it from being harmed and destroyed by the psychotic forces within our society.

    1. And women will ruin a man’s reputation faster than anything else. “Women” these days have no self respect and it can be poisonous to be associated with immoral, low quality human beings because their actions reflect onto you. They live with shame and self loathing everyday and would love tobe responsible for damaging a man’s image.

      1. We’ve reached the point in this sick culture where a man can expect to be accused of some form of sexual assault in his lifetime. Practically every southern girl I know talks about being abused, molestied , or raped by some man in their life. Women will quickly destroy your reputation when you don’t kiss their ass or do their bidding. They are treacherous, vile creatures. They will laugh while the cops are slapping the cuffs on you.

        1. Making prostitution legal should be the main focus of men everywhere. “Rape culture” will immediately cease to exist when a man can go in a regulated brothel and avoid the disaster that is the American female.
          You never hear really beautiful girls complaining about rape because they dont get the sick thrill out of trying to cause men harm; men adore them so they have no reason to hate men. Its the ugly, masculine, fat, low self-esteem bottom feeders that have a vendetta against men for not giving them attention. Prostitution will take them out of the sexual market completely. They will have the choice of joining a brothel, settling with an omega, or being a lesbian.

  3. When people start a rumour that your sister is a whore, it is almost impossible to convince other people that you do not have a sister at all.

    1. Exactly. I’ve found in life, after a witch hunt or two at work, and just general political BS at work, it is WAY better to go on the offensive, even if you appear a bit nutty to people who would otherwise take your side…in the end, THEY DON’T MATTER, it’s the people making the decisions and the initial accuser who listen and watch what you do.

  4. Being overly concerned with a reputation is the mark of a douche and a pussy; attempts to manage an existing reputation can lead to inauthentic behavior.

    1. You need to read the 48 Laws of Power to fully grasp what the author here seems to be driving at. Being known for honesty, means that people won’t believe you could lie, a good point to build power upon. Being known as devious means that people won’t believe that you are being open and straightforward, that dos have advantages.
      The author neglects to tell that during the ensuing series of battles Yi tried to “go easy” on a beaten Liang, only to have Liang lure his army far afield and then separate in an effort to capture him, only to have his headquarters attacked and destroyed by Liang. Yi killed himself and told his own troops to cash in on the bounty.

    2. Depends on how one expresses that concern. Being mindful of it, is wise…going around “checking” on it with buddies, is douchery, as you suggest. I’ve found there’s a middle ground.

    3. Unfortunately, as society crumbles around us there are more and more people out to devour you and cause you pain for no reason at all. We are being regressed back to our animalistic characteristics by a capitalist, materialistic culture. Your weaknesses will be exposed if you dont portray an impenetrable frame; vampires dont waste their time with the strong.

      1. Good point. I would say there’s a difference between establishing and maintaining a reputation amongst your social circle and peer groups, and putting up a “front” for the general public at large.
        There’s little wrong with putting up a hard appearance amongst strangers for protection purposes.

    1. Ditto here. Being honest will get you the worst rep faster than anything else. The honest man is not admired for his honesty, but despised for it.
      All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players liars.

  5. Pro Tip (take it from someone over 40 who got used and abused in public and private life):
    Don’t think of defending your reputation as a purely defensive measure against adversity. This is a blue pill approach to reputation – being static until someone threatens it. This article is spot on regarding the story about the generals.
    What I have found is that reputation is a kind of game. My greatest mistakes were not so much having bad reputation but having too good a reputation. For that I ended up getting used and abused. I bought into that whole “work ethic and never say no” bullshit and ended up so overworked it fucked up my health. And for what? Nothing. That’s what. I did not get rich, I did not get a monument, I did not get my name up in lights. All I accomplished was I gave an opportunity for snickering little douchebags to fold their arms and feel powerful for having played someone.
    One day I’m moving a burn pile in my rented yard that took me 6 months to find the time to do and I start wondering “why did it take me 6 months to find the fucking time to do this?” and so I did some investigating and found out exactly why.
    That was the end of unpaid overtime and then end of silently taking on more shit than I deserved. Never be shy to make someone else miserable, especially when they deserve it.
    While I don’t like to use him as an example, the things that George Costanza did in Seinfeld, or the reasons behind them, were spot on regarding work. Of course things backfired on him for the effect. But that show was popular for a reason.
    Reputation is game. “I’m Captain Jack Sparrow” may be funny to watch but think long and hard about this concept.

    1. I did that the same as you. All i did was make a bunch of other people more wealthy than they ever had any right to be. Now, unless somebody shows the money up front, I don’t do OT. I can go hit the gym and try and live life as good as I can.

    2. Man, you almost described my life to a T.. age-wise and everything. I did become a company owner at one point but it was still a sub-company of a larger industry…. so I didnt reap life changing profits, but rather life changing risk with no Fuck You money to boot, when shit hit the fan.

    3. And regarding handing a shit platter to those who deserve it, I just did that and the explosion it caused is outrageous. Especially if it involves a hot bitch whose used to getting her way 24/7. Before, I had a reputation of reliability and honesty based on all around strong moral judgement. But now, I’m fucking enforcing my morals on those who begin remotely fucking with me and the unintended result is I’m getting 2x the respect… People are saying: “Holyshit, I can’t believe he did that.. no way.. damn..he said he was gonna do that and ACTUALLY did.”

  6. The best way to counter those who try to assassinate your character is to agree and amplify, any defiance would prove your enemies right

  7. Impeccable timing with yet another ROK article. My reputation is under intense scrutiny while being simultaneously attacked by two vindictive bitches as we speak. The law is involved and everything. Stuck my dick in slightly crazy I thought, turned out to be absolutely nuts and psychotic as fuck, 45 days after I dropped her she blind-sided the fuck outta me. Major lesson learned. Game Laws are NOT to be broken.

      1. No, an ex I dumped contacted another ex before her and conspired, no relation to work and they’re from different social circles. Crafty bitch sought her out 35 days after I dumped her in a hail marry attempt to damage my reputation any way possible.

  8. This article further fortifies my personal belief to out those who attempt to ruin peoples’ lives instead of hiding in misguided defense.

  9. Actually, his name is spelled:
    Zhu Ge Liang (and pronounced Joo Guh Leeang) (Guh is like the sound in “Gum.”)

  10. I can’t agree with that statement. Reputation stands no chance against hysteria, slander, white washing and fickle opinion. Integrity is the genuine article, mainly integrity with everything one does, in other words are you doing your best each moment that you are alive? That is actual integrity, no one can take that from you because in the end you can not do more then your best.

  11. Any man that has an American woman for a mate will automatically have his reputation destroyed. Shaming and ridicule are the source of a woman’s power, and she will always use it to destroy her mate to gain power over him. Young men need to learn this early on if they want to maintain their reputation.

  12. There is no fight against an assault on one’s character. Simple agreement and moving on is the only way to live.

  13. The word missing from this article — and I agree with its sentiments generally — is performance. Nothing but performance, regardless of whether you focus on speed, quality, innovation, helpfulness, or anything else, can establish a reputation you’ll find worth having.
    See also “walking the walk.”

  14. It’s “Zhuge Liang” btw, Zhuge is his last name
    He is usually considered a tactician, not a general

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