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  • Writer's pictureSean Lewis

I used to refrigerate my shirts

I know…

It’s a little extreme.

But I was just starting out, and I had BIG dreams.’s what the "Book told me to do.

At the time, Burgundy was the color of choice for your power shoes, and the solid gray, two piece-two button was the appropriate suit of armor to wage your battles in the “Art-of-Business.”

For a long while, I thought this was working. I was rising fast in my community, being asked to take on roles with responsibilities slightly beyond my years or experience.

One day, my name was forwarded to recommend my candidacy for the Senior County Planner role by the “Boss” and mentor to whom I credit the path toward the success of my whole professional life.

The morning of the interview, I went to my closet, chose my favorite shirt, and lightly sprayed some water to start “The Process.” I opened the fridge, threw the shirt on the shelf that never supported anything that actually belonged there, and went to make my coffee.

The rest of “The Process” is unnecessary to the story, so off I go to get "the job."

The interview went swimmingly. I had all the right answers and asked all the right questions. That was the feedback received from interviewer, the Senior County Planner who was looking to pass the torch.

But I didn’t get "the job."

The other half of the feedback was later relayed to me through the gentleman who had originally recommended me.

It was the planner’s concern that the constituency of the community in which I was to serve would not connect with polish of the package my experience came in.

She didn’t think I would be successful in the position.

This was my first lesson (of the many to come) that we must ALWAYS adjust the “style” and “appearance” of our leadership to accommodate the perceptions of people that we want to connect with.

Successful leadership knows when to “dress-down” to ESTABLISH and PRESERVE the CONNECTIONS needed to drive the desired results.


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