Monday, July 18, 2011

He said WHAT?

It was a hot summer day many years ago. I'd had a grueling week at the television station where I served as both morning news anchor and managing editor. So, I snagged a comp day, threw on a swimsuit and headed for the beautiful beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama. After relaxing in the sand for a few moments, I realized that in my haste, I had forgotten to carry something to drink. So, I walked up to the concession area and asked the young man behind the counter for a bottle of water. As I handed him my dollar bill, and reached for the water, he put a tight grip on both, refusing to let go. I looked up at him and he said, "You're not... mmmm.. you're not... nah... you can't be. You're not that lady on TV are you? That.... Drexel Gilbert?" I straightened my shoulders, flashed my biggest TV camera smile and said, "Why, yes. As a matter of fact, I am." To which he replied... "Oh. I guess you must wear a lot of makeup on TV."

Yes. He. Did.
I stomped back to my spot in the sand, fussing and carrying on the entire way. "Seriously?  A lot of makeup? Dude. I've had a hard week. Give me a break..." and on and on. Then I took stock of myself.   For my 'cover-up' I was wearing one of my husband's raggedy fishing t-shirts;  I had on a dirty baseball cap that was probably older than that young man; and my shoes had more flop than flip to them. I realized I'd let that young man down.

He was used to seeing me with my hair styled, my makeup on, speaking to him in a professional manner. I'd blown his image of me. The next time I went to the beach, I wore pantyhose and pumps.

But, I did purchase a new coverup, a nice straw hat....and HUGE sunglasses. No more embarassing 'gotcha's' for me! And, that is when I began to study the importance of image on our professional-- and our personal-- lives. People do make assumptions and judgments about us based on how we dress, speak, and behave. I'm not telling you that it's right. I'm just telling you that.... it IS.
Over the course of the next few days, I'm going to offer some advice on ways to enrich your image. Don't get me wrong. Image isn't everything. There has to be substance behind it. We see the danger of 'empty image' everyday on the television screen and tabloid covers, with celebrities and politicians who look the part---and that's all. Image should be the outward reflection of who you are inside. Image Enrichment™, as I like to call it, starts with the heart.
I hope you enjoy the advice that is to come. I'm basing the next few posts on a speech I gave to a group of business professionals. It's entitled "Triple A Image: Be Aware, Be Authentic, Be Appropriate." Perhaps you will find tips to help you reach whatever goal you may have set for yourself and to become more successful and fulfilled in your professional and personal endeavors.
P.S. I think I might go to the beach tomorrow. Where DID I put those sunglasses?

No comments:

Post a Comment