Question: I have some less than flattering physical traits. Should I consider cosmetic surgery to keep my appearance from negatively impacting my success as an entrepreneur?
Answer: This question reminds me of the male pink flamingo. I’m going to stereotype here, so bear with me. For past generations (including mine) the color pink is more often associated with femininity than with masculinity. So metaphorically imagine what it must be like for the male pink flamingo. He lives his entire adult existence cloaked in bright pink. And yet it doesn’t seem to bother him one whit.
OK, I know pink flamingos are birds, and birds aren’t self-conscious. Which makes the point. Why as humans are we so concerned about our physical idiosyncrasies? There’s no question that society still gives a slight edge to beautiful people. But first impressions don’t make the world go round. It’s the substance of our character and the depth of our passion that is vital to building and sustaining relationships. I’ll bet if we made a consensus list of famous entrepreneurs we’ll find few that would make a casting call in Hollywood. I won’t name names, but can attest to the fact that this list includes the tall, the short, the very short, the rotund, the bald, the wrinkled, the liver-spotted . . . you get the picture. And when we see a photo of one of these women or men what are we thinking? I don’t see the thick glasses, but I do see an amazing bright individual who has achieved great things.
For most of us, the trouble started when we reached puberty. We were so intent on being attractive to the opposite sex that we often saw ourselves as just the opposite. And every little childhood slight magnified our feelings of inadequacy. Fortunately with age comes maturity (usually) and for the most part we are able to let go of our desire to look like we did when we were 17. But every once in a while we look in the mirror and self-doubts bubble up.
Self-doubts may simply be replaced with self-awareness. Are we well-groomed? Are our clothes clean and pressed? Do we have a smile on our face and exude a positive attitude? As an entrepreneur, I can tell you that I’ve met with some people who were wearing $2,000 Armani suits or carrying $7,500 Hermes Birkin handbags and everything about their appearance, attitude and mannerisms told me they were trying too hard. Likewise, I’ve met with entrepreneurs who were wearing off-the-rack at Wal-Mart and had childhood acne scars but were truly extroverted and genuine. Who do you suppose I trusted more and wanted to do business with?
Like the male pink flamingo we can make the choice to be comfortable in our own skin. Then the first impression we make will be about the things that really matter.
This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.