How Does Self Image Affect Business Success?

I’m writing this in response to one of the searches listed in my stats tracking, which lead them to this site. It is not a question I have answered before, but I feel a desire to do so, by way of encouraging people who see themselves as physically unimpressive, or worse, unappealing. I’ve been there, but no longer am, so I speak from a position of identification with that feeling.

First of all, let’s clarify what a good self-image IS, and what it is NOT:

  • It is who you feel you are, at a deep down level.
  • It is your estimation of your worth, to God and Man.
  • It is NOT your wardrobe.
  • It is NOT how you look.
  • It is NOT whether you wear makeup, have your hair professionally styled, or whether you use electrolysis.
  • It is NOT how much you weight.
  • It is NOT how old you are!
  • It has nothing to do with your physical capabilities or limitations.
  • It has less to do with talent than it has to do with effort.

Someone with a good sense of self-worth may put on make-up every morning before they go out into the world, but if they had to rush a child to the ER in the middle of the night, they’d not stand around fussing about having not had time to brush their hair. A jewelry store owner might wear jewelry because they enjoy it, and in that sense, it is part of who they are, but they’d never feel the need to apologize for their sense of style if they had good self-worth.

When you have a good sense of self-worth, you are accepting, first of all, of yourself. You have confidence in what you give to the world, even if it is just a smile or kindness.

In business, you have to have confidence in your skills. Of course, you also have to understand where the limits to your skills are, so that you offer good value, and do not get in over your head, or get a client into trouble due to your inexperience. But you have to feel that you are good at what you do.

If you know that, and can confidently present it to prospective clients or customers, the rest does not matter one bit!

Ok, so there ARE some people who judge me initially by my appearance. I am very casual, my hair is graying, I’m overweight, and I drive an old car. But it is also true that I really do not want to work with people who judge me because of those things – I would not be able to market their product well, and a business relationship would not be a good match. My clients are the greatest people in the world, and they DON’T judge me for anything but my ability to help them in a professional manner. Most of them become good friends. My down to earth image is actually part of my marketing advantage!

I work in a personalized service arena. It is also one where artistic ability is important, so I cannot wear torn or unkempt clothing. But casual is fine, as long as it is neat and tidy.

But the arena I work in is also often presented as expensive, and technically complex. When I show up in jogging shoes and jeans,  it helps my clients to feel that I’ll be straight with them, and that I am very approachable when they have questions.

I’ve turned any disadvantages of my appearance into advantages for the clientele we want to work with. I could not have done that if I did not have a good concept of who I am, what I am capable of, and what I am worth both as a human being, and monetarily as a professional.

And that is what I mean when I tell people that business success is about true professionalism in your work, rather than what you look like. It doesn’t mean being a slob. It just means putting the effort and attention where it matters most – in your work, and in your relationship with your clients or customers.

Now here is what I feel the key is: If you are working for someone else, doing something you do not fit very well, then you have to fuss over appearing to be something you are not comfortable with. And that is not the best course to success! When you are doing something you truly love, within your real strengths, you don’t have to fuss, because it is enough to be yourself.  Sure, you’ll have to develop new skills and learn new things, but the biggest selling point you’ll have is you!

Make your strengths your greatest advantage. And turn your disadvantages into advantages by choosing to work at things that suit you, and in a way that minimizes the disadvantages or makes them a positive thing.

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