I got home from the gym this morning with just enough time for a last-minute conference call … which my client wanted to do via skype. Great. Sweat-soaked hair and practice top, face flushed (but fading) from the exertion and hard physical work that is practice – oh yes, I definitely do not have that whole dress-for-success thing down to represent myself as the professional consultant you want on your team. But oh well. If he had hired me for my good looks he was getting a raw deal on his fees.
After we were finished with our conversation, he asked me if I looked like this every morning when I get home from the gym. It was a reasonable question, and unless you’re M or someone who is at my gym in the mornings, you are unlikely to see me in such a high degree of disheveled state. So I told him, yep, pretty much, but some days I look even worse. And since I thought he just wanted to talk to me on the phone, I did not make any effort to get home with enough time to shower and clean up before our call.
I was super proud of myself for not apologizing for looking like such a wreck of sweaty grossness. He was also very gracious about it, said I looked perfectly fine considering the early hour (he’s on the east coast this week), and had he thought about it, he would have just gone through with a conference phone call rather than skype and put me in an awkward position. He actually apologized for putting me into a position where I did not have my “game face” on for work-work.
This part of our exchange was very brief yet left me feeling extra good about today. I have the best clients.
Going to the gym first thing in the morning sets a good tone for my day, something I really did not understand until a few months into the daily practices and training sessions. People would tell me that I would have more energy, more focus, and I would reply with a doubtful look. Sometimes I still reply with a doubtful look. But what I have learned is how to do a better job of prioritizing my time. Go to bed at a reasonable hour. Shut off my electronic alarms and read for 30 minutes before actually settling in for sleep.
And let go of things beyond my control. This morning is an excellent example of something that not so long ago would have ruined at least the rest of my day, if not had me in a bit of tailspin for the remainder of the week. Because I was not professionally perfected for a skype conversation with a client who prefers it to phone conversations – he’s just a very visual guy. Like all my private clients, he has a loose sense of my day-to-day schedule, from the time I am at the gym to the hours I am typically at my law firm job. Since he said “quick phone conference” I thought we would be chatting briefly by phone, not chatting briefly by skype. What he saw is me just after the gym, but my brain and ability to think through problems and create or suggest solutions was working just fine. Content, and context, is everything. Appearances in this case did not matter one whit.
I think of this as a step forward – I am not nearly as self-conscious about my physical appearance. Progress.
But I still prefer to be showered, dressed more professionally, have combed my hair. Next time I will plan better.