A problem with many people Ė and particularly those in the X generation Ė is that they have been brought up believing that the best way to get ahead in life is to be yourself, and not to worry too much about what other people may think. This can help you to get through successfully in your personal life, for sure, but if you have any hopes of getting ahead in business, you may have to think about making some changes to your personal image.
One of the big problems that a lot of people have is believing in the Hollywood image of corporate big wigs as laid back guys who really could care less if you have several piercings and like to wear loud shirts and ties into the office every day. This is a picture of how most people would like the world to be, not a reflection of the world as it is.
The fact is, most people just donít care about your idea of personal style and how that reflects you, whether they are clients or bosses. The first impression that you make on anyone in business is the most important one. What people want to see is a person who dresses and looks like the image they have in mind of the successful individual; not a person who stands alone in a crowd but a person who can relate to others. Suits have always been and will always be the best conveyors of a sober business attitude -- the kind of attitude that will get the job done.
Another adjustment that you might have to make as far as personal image is in your attitude. ďScrew the Man!Ē just wonít cut it in the corporate world, because realistically you are working for the man (or woman), you want to be the man (or woman), and the last thing you want to do is tip off The Man or anyone else that you donít care what he thinks. Because really, you do. Donít be vocal in your criticisms, and always keep in mind that the other people around you are trying just as hard as you are to get up a rung; donít say anything you donít want repeated.
There is a fine line here that most people donít recognize between being a fawner and a disrupter. You donít have to go out of your way to make a good impression; in fact, most people will be able to tell when you are trying too hard and it will be a turn off. The key is to find a good middle ground between the extremes, and from there allow your work ethic and quality to speak for you.
One last thing to keep in mind is that you will need to be able to seize opportunities when they are presented. Donít brag about your achievements all the time, but when asked, donít be afraid to give an accounting of your accomplishments in your business. Climbing the corporate ladder means you are always aware of where you are, what the next step is, and who around you can give you a hand up or keep you down.
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