It can ruin your life only if it ruins your character. Otherwise it cannot harm you — inside or out.
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations Book 4.8
A little preachy and smarmy for us modern folk? Maybe. But it’s still true. And, often hard to accept sometimes. If your best friend or spouse dies, isn’t your life over? If your business fails and your wife leaves you and you’re broke, isn’t your life ruined? It must certainly feel that way.
But, if you’ve managed to hang onto your character, all of these things are replaceable, to an extent. You can’t ever get your wife or friend back, but you can make new friends and marry again. You can certainly start a new business and get back to where you were, financially.
If you’re character is intact, that means your network is intact. Your friends will still be there for you. Your name will still carry weight. Nobody will remember that you failed. But if, on your way down, you do a bunch of stuff that’s morally reprehensible, or even morally questionable, then you’re fucked. That’s when your network abandons you. That’s what people will remember.