My high school Michigan History teacher started the semester with “…and remember, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” I’m sure it was a Will Rogers quote. That was 43 years ago and I can still see and hear Mr. Skivington speaking those life-changing words. That moment helped me understand some of the things my parents had taught me and it inspired me to figure out exactly what would help me make a good first impression. It sounded like something I wanted to do.
WHY? Why is a good first impression important? Depends. Are you hoping to build a relationship with someone? Are you making a deal, getting an interview, going on a first date? Or maybe you just believe that making a good impression means being the best you and that’s what you want. A good first impression has to be a goal. From there we have work on our manner. Behaving well towards others, in the presence of others, and towards ourselves is a daily discipline. Good first impressions mean a good handshake (firm, web-to-web), smile, eye contact, preparation. But it’s deeper than all of that. Much deeper.
Wanting to make a good impression means you care about you. You care about what you appear to be and you care about how the world interprets you. Making a good impression begins with impressing yourself.
WHY? Why love yourself and care well for yourself? Little things about our manner may not seem like much but it’s extremely important to our self-awareness, confidence, and treatment of others. If we can’t love ourselves fully how can we fully love others? I’ve found I have to get it right with me first. Then my love for others, my confidence, happiness, and joy come naturally.
How we are on the outside has everything to do with what we are like on the inside. How I treat others has everything to with how I treat myself and what I believe about me. I like me. And since I like me, I treat myself pretty well. I take care of my physical, mental, spiritual and emotional well being. Not perfectly, but I care for and about me.
How about you? Do you make a good first impression? Do you impress yourself? Do you care about yourself? Are you interested in making a good impression?
Let’s get back to me. “Spotlight Steve,” is what Wendy would say.
I was twelve when my mom told me that when I was walking with a girl that I should take the side closest to the street. It meant I was taking care of the person I was with and thinking of their safety. I asked her if I should do that with guys too. She didn’t answer. So I told myself it’s a good rule for everyone I’m with. Let’s talk…Dear People,
- Care for the physical you. If you care about yourself, then take extra steps to prove it. Exercise, eat well, clean up around you. Dress well, see your doctor regularly, visit the salon. Making a good impression begins with being impressed with yourself. In the 1950’s Gillette advertised their shaving products with a parrot who said: “Look sharp, feel sharp, be sharp.” Somehow it ended up in a cartoon my two sons and I watched when they were small. The three of us used the phrase when I was teaching them to shower and dress well. Look, none of this is easy. Impressing yourself in order to make an impression on others and create the best you, takes daily discipline. Can you love yourself?
- Care for the mental you (focus on the good stuff). My toughest commitment. Thinking positive thoughts, focus on goals, holding onto confidence. I visualize my life being a scale. It’s usually out of balance to the side of negativity. My mom is sick, my car isn’t working right, my toaster keeps burning my English muffins, thoughts of my self-image, war, economy, and hangnails. In order to feel my best, I think positive thoughts – I call it “putting the good stuff on top.”It doesn’t mean ignoring the bad stuff, it means being in balance by impressing myself with all of the good things in my life. Fantastic marriage, great friends, wonderful children, good health.
Remember author and speaker Zig Ziglar? He said, “Positive thinking won’t let you do ‘anything,’ but it will let you do ‘everything’ better than with negative thinking.” Love yourself.
- Care for the spiritual you. Know what you believe and practice it. Searching? Keep going. The answer is a moment away if you pursue it. Your spirituality is important to your self-esteem and confidence. It can define why you get up every day, why you do or don’t love yourself or give you direction when you’re trying to be positive. One of my all-time favorite authors and speakers, Dr. Denis Waitley said “Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” I do have a favorite verse from Bible scripture, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you.” Ezekiel 26:36. I love that verse. I count on it. God has put a new heart and spirit in me. I’m telling you, love yourself. It feels good.
- Care for the emotional you. My second toughest commitment. For several years my wife Wendy has been patiently helping me with my anxiety. I’m 56, I had a heart attack at 40. We both think some of the cause was the stress I put on myself. These caring factors I’m giving you here have to be done with joy. If you’re doing any self-improvement that feels stressful, negative or creates a vision of you that is anything but better, then stop and address that. (I’ll talk about “change” in an upcoming blog). Get counsel. Get coaching. But do it joyfully knowing the most impressive you is on the way. Looking at yourself through the eyes of another can have extraordinary results. Take it from me. Wendy is a great coach. As she has counseled me on my emotion over the years I’ve taken methodical, joyous steps to improve. It’s hard work, I meltdown sometimes…but I no longer have stomach aches, depression or spend days and days beating myself up over failure. I look at each day…most days…with confidence and joy. You can too. Love yourself enough to want more love, joy, compassion, understanding, and wisdom. Love yourself. You’ll find that, emotionally, you’ll be super fit to love others if you first love yourself. Now THAT is the making of a good impression.
When people asked Jesus what the most important commandment is he said to love God and love your neighbor as you love yourself. Love God, love people. There it is.
Picking one or two things to work on is the best path on the way to impressing yourself with you. Recently, I’ve been starting each day with a few minutes of encouragement or motivation. Imagine showering, dressing, having breakfast then reading an excerpt from Scott Hamilton’s book (recommended from my dear friend John), “Finish First. Winning Changes Everything.”
“The number one predictor for whether you will be a winner
is if you decide to be one.
It’s a choice only you can make. And once you make it,
nothing will be able to stop you.”
~ Scott Hamilton
Make a decision today to make a positive first impression on yourself.