Personal Presence, Presence-Men, Professional Presence

Preparing to Show Up to be On

When clients have to be on, they involve me because preparing to show up to be on is my specialty.  There are many levels to being on.  The occasion and where that event happens impact the what turns out to be the appropriate level.  Some people think that showing up is most of what it takes to be successful. But, showing up is all in the preparation.  And, we all would do well to show up with the right preparedness to be on.

Socially, people think about preparing to show up to be on for all kinds of occasions.  That first date.  An informal wedding by the ocean.  One of those big shindig gala events.  Going to the movies and dinner, or horseback riding, is worthy of preparing to show up to be on.  But every social occasion calls for some different level of clothing.

For the first date, you don’t want to overdo it.  So, you opt for jeans and a nice shirt or blouse with nicely coordinated accessories.  That informal wedding by the ocean surely doesn’t call for anything too formal.  But, maybe it should still be sort of dressy. I mean, it shouldn’t be a dressy suit.  On the other hand, it definitely cannot be a swimsuit.  Somewhere in between, but on the dressier side seems right for the occasion.  The big shindig gala… for sure, that is the moment to go all out.

Dinner and a movie, might seem pretty low key by your typical standards.  But, let’s say you go to a local theatre and restaurant.  While out, you bump into people from your neighborhood, from work, or from church or synagogue?  Does the track suit really represent you when you’re out in public and not in a gym-like setting?  Even athletic pursuits, like horseback riding, can be worthy of preparing to show up to be on.  Wearing the right athletic clothes keeps you comfortable and focused.  It’s the same principle whether you’re a horseback rider or a gymnast swinging your legs over a pommel horse.

Professionally, people think about preparing to show up to be on for more particular moments.  A “big” meeting where the negotiating or the deal making cannot go wrong.  That public appearance where you represent your company, and not just yourself.  Your workgroup has a flat hierarchy. But, on a particular day, you need to step up your presence and be a bit more on than usual.  These are tricky scenarios to navigate.  That’s why it’s worth preparing to show up to be on.

Many corporate cultures deliberately avoid suits.  But, there’s a right moment to put one on anyway. The question is: when?  Is a particular tie or scarf connoting the right kind of message for the big meeting?  Can a pair of dark denim jeans actually uplevel a pair of khaki colored chino pants?  The subtle nuances of dressing appropriately ensure that you show up to be on.  This directly impacts your desired outcome.

This is what I refer to as the hierarchy of “on-ness.”  Everyone needs to be on a lot in life.  The question is just how much.  I liken this to a volume dial on a good old fashioned radio.  Crank it all the way to the right, and the volume is up to its maximum.  Backing down from that, the radio is still on, but with incrementally lower and lower volume.  Dressing and showing up to be on is just like that.

A man’s suit or tuxedo, and a woman’s comparable level of attire, is as formal and on as it gets.  A full suiting or comparable dress is what I think of as being Level I dressing.

Wearing a blazer with a coordinating, but not matching pant achieves Level II dressing.  Even jeans count.

Level III dressing moves the dressier material to pants.  Then, wear the pants with a collared shirt or blouse.

And it just keeps going from there.  Collared shirts and blouses are more uplevel than knitwear.  This principle of dressing to the right level of “on-ness” is extrapolated into every possible piece of clothing and accessories.  It might seem ridiculous.  But, we all admire or question how someone in our presence shows up.  This reflexive analysis is the main reason why a hierarchy or clothing styles exist.  Moreover, it’s precisely why manufacturers, brands and designers produce and create so many styles and types of clothing items.

We’re all searching for ourselves among the clothing we already own or looking at a never-ending supply inside stores.  This is essentially our preparing to show up to be on.  Looking is the preparation.  Considering what fulfills the purpose, based on occasion and location, is about finding that right level of being on.

More than actual occasions, locations, and levels of formality or informality cause you to dress this way or that way.  Your personality qualities and strengths, and your physical characteristics all play roles in how you show up to be on.  You have to be true to who you are, wherever you are.  And, there are just times in life when all of this stuff really matters.  Don’t leave your destiny to chance.  Preparing to show up to be on will help you make the most of that moment.

Joseph Rosenfeld helps successful Silicon Valley technology entrepreneurs and executives discover their personal brands and design their personal styles.  Get Joseph’s free report that helps you know “6 Secrets to Success in Silicon Valley.” Get details about Joseph’s proven program that transforms your life through personal brand and style development.

My role, as a personal brand and style strategist, is that of a storyteller. I learn about a person’s personality and strengths, translate that into an appropriate personal style aesthetic, and help each client to visually and non-verbally tell her or his story with ease and authenticity.