I wanted to share another one of my favorite quotes of all time:
It’s hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse. – Adlai Stevenson
I remember my old director once told me that I needed to look silly every once in a while. I heeded his advice– after all, looking silly is (or was) not really hard for me. For two years at Walmart, I was known as “the guy who wore Crocs.” In one sad, but true moment, I was sitting in a conference room with several buyers and we ended talking about Crocs. Then, one colleague said quite candidly, “I think adults shouldn’t wear Crocs. They’re hideous!” I backed up from the table and pointed out my unique footwear, “What do you mean they’re ‘hideous’? Is this hideous?! C’mon, I’m on-trend!” That only made me want to wear Crocs even more! Well, over time, I became more reserved and I starting losing my silly, random side.
I think the point of Stevenson’s quote is that leaders shouldn’t obsess about their image. I know everyone cares about the opinions of others to a certain extent, but I think good leaders know who they are and aren’t ashamed of it. Or to be even more lucid, leaders don’t spend their time thinking about how they are perceived– there are bigger things to worry about. As I grow older and gain more experience, I hope I can internalize this mindset and keep it in my core.