Not so long ago I attended a function. As often happens at this sort of event we had speakers. One in particular impressed me because the discussion was along the lines of something I have been thinking a lot about lately. I mean I have been having some deep and meaningfuls with the person in the mirror. What do I want, I ask my reflection, and can I achieve it? What do I have to do to get where I want to go?
I would love to have the things I do to have meaning, and that others may enjoy or gain something from it. It’s why I teach English as a Second language to migrants. Knowing I have helped them in some way to communicate is humbling. Communication is empowering. That part of my life I seem to understand really well but other parts are up and down. Can you guess what I am explaining on the whiteboard?
However like most of us I have many balls in the air to balance and all without ever having juggling lessons. Is that the problem? Attempting too much? But, why shouldn’t we? Is it so terrible to want a variety of areas in our lives to go right? Or is the problem something much simpler?
The speaker at the luncheon had the theory that the problem was the image we present and the person we are doesn’t always mesh. At first I thought this a little superficial for aren’t we so much more than we appear? Yet on deeper reflection I got it. Your personal image and how you manage it, decides whether you are mediocre or a star, even a tiny one. First impressions do matter.
The image you present is like opening the front door to your home. It says this is me and when the door opens it needs to be consistent and representative of that me. If what they see is a mess then you are asking clients, friends or family to see you through that mess. It isn’t fair to them. It’s your mess and one you can’t be bothered cleaning up. How will they ever believe you will do a good job (whatever the circumstance or situation) for them, if you don’t respect yourself enough to do it for you?
When I am teaching English as a communication medium I think about what I wear (I use the colours, the shapes for description), I think about preparation and presentation in terms of what the students will relate to and what works best for me because I am the presenter. I juggle (even without juggling lessons) these aspects and always reflect on what can be improved by asking, by allowing them to see I don’t know it all. Why is it easier in one situation than another? Why isn’t there an easier transference?
What is there that needs to be transferred? The answer is everything. Things work when we are consistent, consistent in our approach whether it be taking care with our appearance, the work we are preparing and the attitude we have in delivering. Consistency is the fly in the ointment, the worm in flour, the mould in the bread. Not consistency itself but the lack of.
We can’t measure our success by what we do in one place; it has to be reflected in all we do and the only way to achieve this is to recognise the importance of consistency as part of an equation for a more productive and happier life. We don’t have to be perfect. We just need to build creativity, capability, credibility into our lives as consistent habits. Together they spell professionalism and if we work to maintain this, the rewards come in the form of satisfaction in our job, life, friendships and they way we look. It builds confidence (more about this in a later post).
A recent video I watched about Navy SEALS in training gave making the bed a whole new meaning. Getting things right, Admiral William H. McRaven (fascinating speaker and video clip) informed us, can start with the habit of making our bed every day, one small completed task done right, can be the springboard for many more. How can we get the big things right if we don’t do the little things? And the added bonus – knowing we have a comfortable refuge at the end of a hard day. It reminded me of my own days in the Defence Services. Our beds had to be perfect enough to be able to bounce a 20 cents coin (we had to have the old hospital corner thing going or we were in serious trouble). It took me forever but I did it, and back then, believe me, we needed the comfort because to our young innocent minds and bodies the days were very long.
To be honest my mother taught me how to make the bed. The Army taught be how to make it quicker, but the Navy SEALS taught me to appreciate the consistency of having a nice place to go back to. Maybe I already knew that last bit but for me and the SEALS to have something in common is not an event I can pass up mentioning.
On a more serious note, its the little things that form the base from which to change the world. After all, it is about consistency, isn’t it?