Many people think that image is fluff but they would be completely wrong. Now I know that what people think when they take on this view is that it’s selfishly self-focused to be image conscious. People think that image is fluff because it feeds the ego, that it’s a self-indulgent excuse to dress better, and to look like you’re showing off or that you’re trying to one-up someone else.
We’d also prefer to think that we should not be judged by our outward appearance, but by who we are, how we think, and the work we do.
But it just doesn’t work that way.
Nothing makes me happier than hearing from someone who is working with me about how his or her life has improved. It happens all the time. One such experience happened recently that perfectly illustrates why it’s wrong when people think that image is fluff.
A client I’m working with had a very typical looking wardrobe. Nearly every piece looked like it was bought in haste. They didn’t cohesively tell a story that represented who he is. Some clothes no longer fit his body. Others didn’t fit his persona. Still others appeared to be too conservative and businesslike for the business-social culture of his company. Collectively, the wardrobe failed to represent his position, abilities, and aspirations.
I never asked him, but based on what comprised his wardrobe, he could easily have been one of the people who think that image is fluff.
We work together, first talking about who he is and who he wants to become. Together we realize that he’s got a lot to live up to, at work, as a husband and father, and as a friend. Over time, I develop a cohesive capsule of clothing that becomes his new wardrobe that is intended to support him at work, at home, and socially. We review it together so he learns and knows how to create combinations that carry special messages to himself and to those around him.
This particular client has a large number of reports at a big technology company in Silicon Valley. We saw one another recently, and the first thing that he said to me was, “Joseph, you’ve changed my life!”
How can something so profound be fluff? It’s so easy to take for granted the power of dressing, something that you do day in and day out. You get into a routine, and then you get in a rut. You may not even enjoy the ritual of getting dressed every day. It doesn’t inspire or motivate you. It’s meaningless.
Dressing yourself should be full of meaning. It should inspire and motivate you. When you no longer avoid thinking about your image and do things to improve it, the results that come from it are anything but fluff. Having your life change by developing your personal image is not a fluffy outcome, and it is within your reach.
My client exclaimed that our work together changed his life because he has greater confidence. By becoming more clear and certain about what motivates him and about how he wants to be perceived, his confidence level, which wasn’t significantly lacking, went to a whole new level.
His ability to lead was already in evidence. Now he looks like a leader, and not merely for the sake of appearances. He wants to be the best manager he can be so that his reports step up their own performance and can be helped by him in the advancement of their own careers. Having a breakout image development has helped to show others non-verbally what he really shouldn’t have to say with words.
He’s happy and excited in the morning to make a good wardrobe selection on the basis of what he’s doing that day and with whom he’s having meetings. At the office, he brings this good attitude with him and people can’t help but notice by complimenting him on how great he looks.
At home and on the weekends, he’s able to leave work at the office, and to literally “hang it up” in the closet by having other selections of clothing to wear that serve more elements of his personality and help him to be either more active, relaxed, and even more appealing to his family.
The point about people taking note of your appearance can’t be emphasized enough. You may not want people to focus on this, but what is the world around you supposed to do – behave as if they are blind? It doesn’t work. Even people who are blind can sense things about you that you wouldn’t believe. So rather than pretend that your image, appearance, and wardrobe don’t matter, take on a healthy mindset that they do and work to make positive changes.
It doesn’t surprise me that people think that image is fluff. But now that you know how it could make a significant difference in every element of your life, you’d do something about it, too. And you can. If this sounds like something you know you need to explore but don’t know where to start, contact me and let’s talk about it.
Image is an experience that emanates from within and results in a real visual manifestation. Image isn’t some kind of fluffy outer expression. You can’t make people see you differently if you’re unwilling to challenge yourself to see and become your full potential.
Joseph Rosenfeld helps successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs transform their self-confidence by improving their personal style. Get Joseph’s free report that helps you know which “7 Ways Your Image Is Leading to Low Performance” at josephrosenfeld.com.