At the National Speakers Association meeting in Austin, Texas I heard a wonderful analogy between how we view the cars we drive and how we judge people (and ourselves!).
Professional Speaker and local NSA president Catherine Jewell (a delightfully talented woman who is internationally applauded for her transformational sales training presentations and entertaining keynote talks) told the crowd about the love she had for her 1991 Acura Vigor. The car was a beautiful amethyst color (the men in the audience later discovered that amethyst is actually purple). It was stylish, powerful and reliable.
She always felt safe and comfortable while driving this car. In comparison to all the cars she has owned, the Vigor stood out from the pack. It could go from zero to sixty in 7.2 seconds and once took the car up to 140 miles per hour on an open country road (which was okay because her passenger was her brother, who is a Catholic priest!). While driving fast was not uncommon (she mentioned that highway patrol men "often" wrote the car was brown..."often"???), 140 mph was a memorable experience she will always recall fondly while thinking of this particular automobile.
Catherine got much joy from this Acura Vigor and only had to do the schedule maintenance. It never needed any major overhauls, and it did not add stress to her life. It was clear that this car had been a trusted friend.
How about you? How do the people you meet in the business community judge you? Are you stylish, powerful and reliable? Do you accomplish tasks with speed and never require maintenance? Lets explore:
Stylish. Other people do judge us by our appearance. We need to stay fit, dress appropriately and articulate when speaking. While some might think it is unfair that how we look and talk is important, your personal style is all part of your image...your brand. You cannot ignore look.
Powerful. Power means different things to different people. To me it is that you have the ability to get things done in the business world. This power can be displayed in many different ways. It is not always because someone has a particular business"title", as there are many executives in companies that have no respect, and thus no power. I once heard it said that "you do not command respect (from a job title), you earn respect (from your actions). How you behave will come back to roost.
Reliable. Can others count on you to follow through and complete your assigned tasks. Do you have a reputation of helping others, or are you known for only looking out for yourself. Do you remember others whom you have met before and treat them with respect? (I ran into a woman the other day who I have met no less than 10 times....she had no idea who I was, and when I noted that we had met, she acted as if our past encounters were not important enough for her to remember....this leaves me with a low impression of her abilities).
Low Maintenance. We all know people who drain the energy from a room when they arrive. Everyone has those "high maintenance" friends, who while entertaining, are not the ones that you would recommend to others. Don't be one of these people. You should not require others to spend a lot of time taking care of your issues. Instead you should find ways to make their lives better....not more complicated.
On the topic of maintenance, you also need to take the time to take care of yourself. Just like Catherine changed the oil and kept the tire pressure correct in the Acura, you should keep yourself physically and mentally fit. If you become run down you will be of no use to anyone. Schedule enough time to catch up on sleep, read a book, go for a run (or walk, swim, ride, etc....) or just relax.
Like a good car you need to maintain your style, power and reliability or your network of professional contacts will be trade you in for a newer model.
Have A Great Day.