As many of you may know, this past weekend I got to experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity… playing a baseball game at Dodger Stadium. Growing up a Dodger fan and going to probably a hundred games in my life, the idea of actually stepping foot on that hallowed ground was the stuff of whimsy. (Yes, I used the word “whimsy”… impressed?) But for one three-hour period, it was my field. At the start, I felt out of place. This was the field that Sandy Koufax played on, Don Drysdale, Duke Snider, Steve Garvey. Not Rob Cohen… but after awhile, it felt natural. Want to know why? It may sound corny, but here goes: I had my Dodger uniform on.
Sure, it wasn’t a uniform that I was given when I signed a multi-million dollar contract. I actually had to pay for it (well, Dad did, thanks Dad!); but it sure looked legitimate; I even fooled myself. Wearing that uniform, I actually felt like I belonged there. It made me think about how perception can be changed just by the clothes you are wearing. Taking the field under the lights, wearing my Dodger blue with royal blue socks, royal blue belt, Dodger hat and the Dodger jersey with the number “13” on the front and back and the name “R Cohen” stitched across the back, I belonged there. No security guard was going to escort me off the field because I was trespassing.
We all get into circumstances where we feel overwhelmed or out of place. I remember the first time I went to court after I had passed the BAR exam. For those of you who don’t know, law school does not prepare you to be an attorney; it prepares you to take the BAR exam. So going to court, by yourself, for the first time, it can be daunting. But that morning I remember distinctly putting on my uniform and walking into court like I belonged there. The bailiff did not ask me what I was doing there; the judge did not look at me like I was there because my dad took his son to work that day. I was in my uniform and I belonged there. I was legitimate.
Everyday we put on our uniforms. We dress a certain way because we want to give off an impression about us. Maybe we want to land a client and wear our best suit because we want to impress him or her. Maybe we wear casual attire because we want to promote an air of congeniality, not aggression. Everything about our outward appearance is designed to promote a specific response from the people with whom we interact. What is the saying? You never get a second chance to make a first impression? So much of how people think about us is tied to how we appear. Do we carry ourselves with confidence? Are we unkempt and shabby-looking? Is the tie askew or the shirt wrinkled?
Do you think about these things on a daily basis? I know I don’t; there are some days, it is easier to just wear jeans and a shirt to work, and sometimes that is ok. Sometimes I want to be known as the guy who rolls up his sleeves and works hard, who isn’t afraid to get dirty.
But back to my Dodger uniform. Our appearance has two resultant affects. One is the way the public sees you. The second is how you see you. Amy says I am vain because I have never met a mirror in which I didn’t stare at myself. She may be right; or, she may just see me as reinforcing my perception of myself. I put on a suit and tie, I am an attorney to be reckoned with. I have on my uniform and no one is going to tell me I don’t belong there.
This week, dress to impress… yourself.
Have a great week.