“Attractiveness is not necessary for success, but appearance IS .” ― Max Simon
When I was teaching career transition at Bow Valley College, one of the sayings we would emphasize to the students was: “If you look like you belong in the room, then you only have to convince people to listen to what you have to say. However, if you don’t look like you belong in the room, you have to first convince people that you do belong in the room, and then convince them to listen to what you have to say.”
Looking like you belong in the room saves a lot of time and energy!
This might seem overly simplistic for a success blog, (and I am by no means perfect) but I am constantly amazed when I go to networking events how many people look , as one of my colourful friends would say, “slapped together with duct-tape and a glue gun”.
While, as Max Simon says above, attractiveness is not necessary for success, appearance is. Our appearance is a reflection of our self-care. Our appearance conveys CRUCIAL information. It conveys what we think about ourselves. It conveys how much we value ourselves and what we think we are worth. And that translates into what OTHERS think of us and what others think we are worth. Let’s face it. Humans DO judge a book by its cover.
Now, I’m not preaching perfectionism, or appearance so contrived it looks like a walking, plastic manikin. I am however suggesting that appearance needs to be appropriate for the situation and follow Eight Basic Appearance Principles. These basic principles apply equally to our personal appearance as they do to our homes, cars, business materials and websites.
The Eight Appearance Principles:
- Condition is more important than cost. Not everyone can afford designer. Things don’t have to be expensive, but they do need to be in good repair. Shabby is shabby—even when it is Gucci. How we take care of our possessions tells our clients how we are likely to take care of them. Handing someone a shabby, tattered business card is just as bad as showing up in a worn, frayed suit.
- Clean is more important than age. Not everything needs to be “this year’s model”. However, nothing smells as good as clean. Whether it is new car smell, the soap-just showered smell, or the lemony fresh of just cleaning your home—clean is more important than new.
- Professional is more important than pretty. There is a difference between dressing to look good and dressing to be professional. Err on the side of professional. You want to go to a business meeting looking like you are going to a business meeting, not a night club. I once had an assistant show up for an interview in one of those cute, trendy styles with the neckline cut so the fancy bra could be seen sticking out above it. While it looked great on her trim figure, it sends a message about the type of person you are and was not the perception I wanted to create about my hypnosis and coaching practice!
- Functional is more important than fancy. People have to be able to use it. You can have the fanciest website, etc. but if people can’t figure it out, they will get frustrated and leave. Fancy often breaks more often, too.
- Reliable is more important that impressive. How often have you met someone impressive who then later failed to deliver? Be reliable. You will get far more return business.
- Quality that is completed is more important than perfection that is never delivered. One of my friends and colleagues, Jeremy Tracey, often says, “A quality product that is on the shelf for sale is better than a perfect concept in your head.” Yes, you do want to do a good job. AND there is ALWAYS something we can do better. Get things as good as you can get them and get them out! (That includes your personal skills as well as your materials. If you wait until it’s all perfect, it will never happen.) And, on that note, I apologize for any typos or grammar errors in this blog!
- Classic is more important than trendy. Yes, you do need to look like you belong to the last decade (preferably the last 3-5 years). However, jumping on every fad or trend as it comes along is not necessary. Up-to-date and aware of what’s happening in the world is more important than the latest-and-greatest. It’s less expensive, too. Classics are classics for a reason. They stand the test of time and you can always rely on them. You rarely go wrong with the classics.
- Fit is more important than everything else. You can have the best, top-of-the-line, Armani suit. It can be clean, neat, well keep, quality, reliable, classic cut, functional, and professional, but if it fits you poorly EVERYONE can tell! It just doesn’t look right. This is as true of our clothes as it is of our brand and our personal integrity, as it is of the clients we serve. Make sure everything in your life and business is a proper fit!
This week’s success tip is: Appearances DO Matter! This week, see how you can get more of each of the eight appearance principles. Look at all the areas of your life, home, personal care, car, business, family, finances/investments, hobbies and so on. Honestly assess your appearance in each area. What does your currently level with each of these say about how you care about yourself? This week, make your appearance matter!
- Assign one of the Eight Appearance Principles to each day this week. (You can do two on one day or move the eighth into next week).
- Each day, take a good look at how that tips is showing up in your life. Where are things out of repair or messy? Where are you looking nice instead or professional, or out-dated, or sacrificing quality for trends, etc.
- You may not be able to change everything at once, so make a list of priorities and work away at them one at a time.
- If you notice you are especially weak in one area, then focus more on it!
- At the end of the week, use the weekly review process outlined in the About tab to review your progress.