I don’t run a company. I don’t work at a law firm. I don’t even drive a fancy car (I don’t drive any car actually — I take the bus). And yet, more often than not, I walk around looking like my Porsche is being brought up by the valet…
The other day, I was walking across UCLA’s campus when someone stopped me and asked for directions. Getting asked for directions is quite common, nothing weird there. However, it was the fact that they called me “Professor” as they tried to catch my attention that was weird.
After explaining how to get to the nearest library, I walked away thinking about how funny it was that they thought I was a Professor.
Later that week I was looking for a restroom when I stumbled upon a large gathering of what looked like MBA students. It appeared to be some sort of fancy networking event — suits and ties and heels etc. I hadn’t eaten yet that day and they had food — so I walked in, was greeted by the greeters, given a name tag and told the food was “that way.”
Don’t mind if I do!
After leaving the networking event, I thought it was so funny that no one noticed that I did not belong at their event. Additionally, I have definitely not earned the title of Professor and yet people mistook me for one. The common theme here?
The way you dress and carry yourself can be massively important.
I started to consider the way I was dressed and the way I was walking and I realized…
It actually was not crazy at all for me to be mingling with suit-clad MBA students as “one of them” given the fact I dress up quite consistently anyway! Additionally, I do kinda look like one of those hip-professors sometimes — still no leather briefcase though.
More often than not, you will find me in a dress shirt, nice pants and shoes. Why?
Because dressing like I am important gives me a sense of value that shorts and flip-flops never will.
“I always believe that to be the best, you have to smell like the best, dress like the best, act like the best.”
— Lil Wayne
Gone are the days of Crocs N Socks!
So, let’s rewind to about four years ago. Jeremiah walks into a room and the first thing you see (and possibly hear) are the Crocs with the mismatched socks extending up his shins. As you move upward, the next item to greet your eyes are the basketball shorts that hang far below the knees, appear to be 2-sizes too big and have paint on the hem from a past painting project.
Lastly, the shirt and the hair! The shirt is not only too big, it also has numerous holes throughout from the Gerbil that was once part of the family. To top it off (quite literally) my hair looked somewhat like a slowly falling glacier in all its tragicness.
One day, I realized that by dressing like I didn’t care, I was missing a massive opportunity to communicate to the world around me.
I started to realize that by simply preparing myself for the day, people actually started to listen to me and therefore my ideas were heard. I was treated with respect because I showed that I respected myself, and I met so many more new people, because I no longer looked like a small troll coming out from hiding.
This is not about them — This is about you
Some people argue that to dress nicely or to treat your outer appearance as significant is superficial and materialistic. Both could be true — that is an internal decision.
In my case, I shop at Goodwill and I care less about what others see in my clothing than what they see in my character.
When I wear nice clothing and prepare myself for the day, I treat myself with more importance. I walk with a more respectable stride. I listen in meetings as if it were a board meeting of a massive company. I shake hands like I’m a U.S. Ambassador. I even write with more authority!
I glide through my entire day with a higher level of self-respect and sense of importance all because I chose to prepare myself for the day.
Ok, maybe I am exaggerating just a tad — but you get the idea.
Sometimes I like to think about it in the framework of going to a meeting with one of my role models. I dress for the day as if I am going to a meeting with that person.
Is there someone you admire or respect? A role model of some sort?
Try dressing like you were going to meet them and see how it changes your self-perception.