In life you are always on stage

Connect Magazine

Spring 2018

 

Every time you encounter another person your brain makes judgments—consciously or subconsciously—about that person. You store away those observations in your mind as a mental image of that person. And, equally significant, others are warehousing judgments about you in their minds. 

That notion of “always being on stage” holds true no matter what you do. And that’s why it’s so important to be the best version of yourself in any location or situation. Just think about all the encounters you have among other people at work, in the community, and with friends and family. Each is an opportunity to build your image. Having a strong one can make a difference in almost every aspect of your life. 

It sounds simple, but you will be most successful in life if you always try to put your best foot forward. When I meet a person who dresses professionally, I immediately record the thought that this person is likely a “pro.” But when I encounter a person dressed haphazardly, looking like they didn’t take or make time for themselves, I quickly reach the opposite conclusion. Remember, the first image others have of you is usually a visual one, so make it bold and buttoned up, and leave a lasting impression. 

Attitude may be difficult to define, but our instincts have a way of drawing conclusions almost instantly. When we meet someone, we observe attitude right away, record those observations based on first impressions and then are often reluctant to change those imprints later on. First impressions of positive attitudes have enduring value. 

When you treat others respectfully you are building a positive image. Your proof of character shows up when you are polite to the cashier in the store or patient with the waiter in the restaurant. Same thing applies when you act like a jerk: Everyone around you sees that behavior and likely will remember it. You never know who is around, so it always pays to be respectful of others. 

Here are a few more tips for demonstrating the best possible stage presence:

  • Start every encounter with a smile. A smile immediately indicates a positive and welcoming attitude. As they say, when you smile the whole world smiles with you. It’s true. 
  • Make the first move. Introduce yourself at the outset of any new encounter to help people feel comfortable with you. It works wonders. 
  • Ask good questions. Engage and stay focused on the conversation. Not only will you have a more meaningful encounter, but your new friend will also walk away remembering a great discussion. 
  • Stay positive. However unintentional, talking about negative topics or engaging in others’ complaints will cast you in a negative light. So always steer conversations toward positive topics.
  • Learn to laugh. It’s amazing how establishing a good sense of humor and laughing (appropriately) can build the bonds of friendship and trust.

Think of yourself as a complete package—appearance, attitude and conduct. Dial in each element and you will project the best, most positive possible image for yourself—and others. Every morning, prepare yourself for the stage of life. I promise, it will pay off.

 

Joe Scarlett is the retired CEO of Tractor Supply Company
For more on leadership see joescarlett.com
Or write Joe at Joe@joescarlett.com

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