About a year ago, I was meeting with a mentor, getting coached on a difficult situation I was in. We met for about an hour. At the end of our time together, he looked at me and asked, “Do you mind if I give you some feedback?”
“Sure!” I said. I did not expect to hear what he said next…
He said, “Shine your shoes! I’ve been distracted by them the entire time we’ve been meeting and as a result, I have not been able to give you the focus I would have liked to.”
At first I thought to myself, “Really? Shine my shoes? Out of everything we just discussed, the most important feedback you can give me is for me to shine my shoes?”
Looking back, that was the best feedback he could have given me. It enforced a lesson that I have been learning over and over again over the last 10 years: details, appearance, and excellence matter.
Like it or not, people are judging you based on your appearance, your attention to detail, and whether or not you conduct yourself with excellence.
I grew up in an environment where none of those things were valued or stressed. I’ve always been able to connect with people, so I thought that I could get by in life strictly with my personality. Unfortunately, that simply wasn’t true! These things matter… a lot!
The lesson: Things that may seem insignificant to you, are often more significant than you think:
- The way you dress
- The way you conduct yourself
- Being consistent
- Working hard
- Your ability to carry a conversation
- Not taking shortcuts
- Whether or not your shoes are shined!!!
- The importance of paying attention to detail
- The value of processes and systems
- Following through on commitments
- Telling the truth
- Being on time
- Being present
Whether I’ve wanted to hear the feedback or not, I’ve had so many mentors speak into my life about the importance of some of these issues. It’s made me a better man and a better leader.
If you do not have mentors in your life who live lives of excellence that can speak into your life about some of these issues, you are missing out on some fantastic character development opportunities.
I can’t encourage you enough to get around sharp people who understand the value of details, appearance, and excellence. They have the ability to change your life forever.
Last piece of advice: When you do get around people who are willing to give you feedback in these areas, don’t get offended when they tell you to shine your shoes! Be teachable. They are trying to make you better and if you’ll listen, you will be.
Have you shined your shoes today?
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