I saw a young man the other day eating at a restaurant. If I were his boss, although I wouldn’t fire him, I would definitely categorize him as “not” an up-and-comer. It was an embarrassing display of lack of self awareness. He was hunched over his food with the worst table presence I’ve seen in years. It was like he had only enough energy to stagger to his meal before he expired. Does posture matter? Do table manners matter? Being concerned as to what message is received by the world, is that selling out? Yes, yes, and no.
Is there any debate on the obvious that we humans live in a community of other humans who form opinions, not necessarily as condemnatory judgments, but in the normal course of self-navigation? For example, I am continuing to evolve, grow, form more mature opinions by revising old loosely held thoughts. I do this because that’s the way of it, being human. But also because I actively want to navigate my world for my life’s betterment. We judge the world on a subjective scale between beneficial through benign to detrimental. So I would “judge” a hard working young man at a bank as a potential employee differently than a tattooed man standing next to my car swinging a chain. Ok, that’s obvious. If I were to coincidentally interview them the following week, I’d recognize the bank employee as a positive and the apparent hooligan as a negative. But would I have needed to have seen them prior, out of context, to make that judgment?
No. And this is where the young can miss the point. The energetic hard worker that is self aware enough to project growing competence is more easily able to make that sale than the guy who tries to turn it on and off in his life. I am warming up to people having tattoos, but not much; I am not warming up to smoking. A slouch, literally and figuratively, doesn’t have the practice of a firm handshake, eye contact, clear voice, measured responses, and positive posture. It takes practice to coordinate those things so that they’re natural and not forced. It takes a whole lotta practice to listen all the way through something and then respond versus stop listening half way through so as to formulate a response. It takes practice to write an email that gets to the point. It takes practice to do well in the adult world. Continuous practice.
So if there’s an attitude issue: “Hey man, I’m good. I don’t need your approval”; or, “Duuuude”; or, and most likely, “Those things are not as important as my actual work ethic”. Yes, that last thought may be true, and this was one of my immature beliefs back in the day, but that misses the point. You won’t get the chance to prove your value at the next level if you don’t consider the whole package. Whether that value is the opening level of getting the job or the next level of promotion. Closed doors are silent data points. Value does matter more than appearances, but your personal projection is inherently tied into your perceived value.
This young man at the restaurant wasn’t practicing. No doubt nagged by his mom and dad to sit up straight, his post-adolescent thought was “I own my freedom”. True. But freedom is not without consequences. His freedom mindset cannot appreciate the accumulated opportunity costs inherent in bad posture. You can’t just fix that. It takes practice to be self aware enough to sit up straight and not act like an adolescent. What if that young man doesn’t want what I value. Instead what if he is a brilliant tattooed smoking programmer that can get a high paying job anywhere and flip the bird to my values. Fair enough. But all choices have short and long term consequences. Over the last 10,000 years, all societies have fine tuned the cause and effect on the subject of “fitting in”. And so I assert, it is mostly a matter of maturing awareness rather than a disagreement on values.
The reason you need an Ironmen group is to develop a forum where you can get honest feedback on what you’re projecting. Everyone has a “feel” to them, an incalculable amount of data that is summarized as such. What are you projecting?
To clearing the mirror,