I was getting ready to go to the office this morning and was putting a tie on in my bedroom while my oldest daughter watched TV. She looked over at me fussing with my tie and asked a pretty normal question, “Daddy, why do you wear a tie?” Without even thinking I said, “It lets people know I’m in charge.” To which her response, which I’m sure her mother, has already put on Facebook was “I thought Mommy was in charge.” I of course replied, “At work—Cameron—so people at work know I’m in charge.” Besides realizing that my five year old has figured out who is in charge on the home front it got me thinking about why I do wear a tie. The fact is that I wear a suit and tie to work about 90% of the time with jeans and a sweater reserved for really sloppy days with no meetings. So why do I do it? Washington, DC is a bit more formal town than many and there is certainly some peer pressure to look “professional,” but I’m not doing it for external reasons. I do it because it makes me feel like I’m ready to go, kind of like when superman hits the phone booth and comes out wearing tight fitting jammies and a cape, I know that when I walk out my front steps in a suit and tie I’m ready to take on the world.
So, do the clothes make the man? I really don’t think so, but they do make you feel a certain way. I had a baseball coach in college that was adamant that we wear practice uniforms. We all wanted to shag flies in shorts and t-shorts and he had us just short of game ready every day. He would sit in the dugout with his too tight coaching shorts on and scream at us for “looking slack” or “not looking like a ball player.” “Look good, play good” was his mantra and he hammered away at it whenever he felt we hadn’t lived up to his standard—not just of play but of looking ready to play. Looking back on it, I think he wanted us to look like ball players because it made us feel like ball players, which hopefully translated into us playing like ball players. It didn’t always work but he was a pretty successful coach over a lot of years. I think he was on to something. How you look contributes to how you feel and gets you ready to be successful. I’ve talked a lot about mental preparation and the importance of visualization as a means of preparing yourself to be successful. For me, getting “dressed for success” is just a part of that process of getting in the mindset to be successful. Whether I have a big meeting or I’m just working in teams, I like to look ready to succeed.