Image: The Second Piece Of The Success P.I.E.

The person who attracts the most attention isn’t the one who fits in but the one who stands out.

We all have something in common. Nobody wants to be a loser. Everybody wants to be successful.

And a few people want to be wildly successful. They’re the ones I often see in my “Journey to the Extraordinary” program.

As I wrote last week, being successful is all about PIE … or Performance, Image, and Exposure. And as Maria Urani, the Vice President of Delivery Services at Nationwide Insurance, puts it, “Performance is the foundation for success.”

But PERFORMANCE, in and of itself, is seldom enough to guarantee success. We all know good, productive, hard-working people who never seem to go very far in their jobs, their careers, or their businesses. That’s because they lack the right IMAGE or don’t get enough EXPOSURE … or both.

Once your PERFORMANCE is indisputably excellent, you’ve got to have the right IMAGE to take the next step up the ladder of success. Other people have got to see you in the right light … or it will impede if not kill off your success.

So IMAGE isn’t something fluffy and irrelevant. “It’s a very important piece of the PIE,” as Urani points out.

No one makes that clearer than Marie Antoinette. She’s the perfect example of how a bad IMAGE can hurt you. She was only 15 when she married King Louis XVI of France in 1770. She enjoyed fabulous luxury at the Palace of Versailles, but her incredible spending sprees dug the country of France into a deep financial hole … while the common people were suffering from extreme unemployment and terrible poverty.

Unfortunately, Marie Antoinette did not understand their misery. When she was told the people were starving because they had no bread, she is reported to have said … somewhat ignorantly and arrogantly … “Let them eat cake!”

Of course, that comment, along with all her other comments and behaviors, killed her IMAGE. The French people began to hate her. And in 1789, a mob forced Marie Antoinette out of the palace, imprisoned her, and eventually beheaded her in 1793, at the mere age of 37.

Talk about a bad IMAGE. That’s about as low as you can go. The truth is … when it comes to being successful in your career or your business, you’ve got to go beyond PERFORMANCE and have a great IMAGE in the minds of your coworkers and customers as well. Here a few things you can do to ensure a great IMAGE.

=> 1. Know what others say about you.

You can’t live in the dark or the land of make-believe if you want to ensure your success in life and work. You’ve got to know what others think and say about you. And if you don’t know, ASK, ASK, ASK.

Anderson and Kudrle, the founders of The Diamond Performance Group, proved that. In a study of “Factors Critical to Customer Commitment,” they re-affirmed the importance of IMAGE. In fact, they discovered that a startling 77% of the factors that determined customer loyalty had to do with IMAGE … those factors being Business Expertise and Image, Dedication to the Customer, and Account Sensitivity. Only 23% of the factors had anything to do with “product performance” or “service department excellence.”

In other words when the customers have a good IMAGE of a provider, they become loyal committed customers. So you had better know what others say about you, and if you don’t like what you hear, get busy changing your IMAGE.

=> 2. Be a role model to others.

Unfortunately, in some organizations, it seems to be a more case of the blind leading the blind. Or just about as bad, it’s the bland leading the bland. Neither one of those creates the inspiring IMAGE you need to have and project.

To be a role model to others, I highly recommend “The ABC’s of Success” written by Chaplain (Col.) Charles W. Edwards, Jr. They’re right on target. In fact, you might print them out, put them on your wall, read them every day, do what they suggest, and you’ll be a great role model to others.

“THE ABC’S OF SUCCESS: Arrive a little early for every date or appointment. Be enthusiastic in everything you do. Complete every assigned task. Do a little bit more than is required. Express yourself after you know the facts. Feel comfortable in every situation by acting yourself. Go all out to please your friends. Help your enemies. Identify yourself by accomplishment rather than words. Join in and help when you are needed. Keep your head; it may save your hide. Listen with your ears, not your mouth. Make do with what you have. Never say never. Open your heart to those less fortunate than you. Please yourself by pleasing others. Quickly respond to an emergency. Remember the spirit of Christmas especially in August. Study, study, study to excel.

Take advantage of opportunity. Use spare time intelligently. Value your health. Work at your work. X-out any qualities that could lead to failure. You (and your Higher Power) are your most important assets. Zestfully meet any challenge.”

Great advice. Follow it and you’re bound to have a great IMAGE that even motivates others to be their best.

=> 3. Be your own PR agent.

2300 hundred years ago, Aristotle wrote, “Dignity does not consist in possessing honors, but in deserving them.” His words are still true today. IMAGE does not come from some initials behind your name, a plaque on the wall, or a medal pinned to your chest. It comes from doing certain things.

Unfortunately, in today’s crazy busy world, you can perform wondrous tasks … many of which deserve some honor … but never have them recognized. People just get too plain busy to notice or comment on the great things others do. So your fine contributions … your above and beyond performance … may never come to light when it comes to winning new business or even getting a promotion.

That means you’ve got to make sure others know your role in the organization, the differences you’ve made, and what you have to offer in the future. If you don’t toot your own horn once in a while, in a very tactful, tasteful, and appropriate way, you’re bound to have a poorer IMAGE than you deserve.

=> 4. Dress for success.

With an embattled economy and with jobs at a premium, this little tip just might save the day for you. Unfortunately, we have some folks in our culture who underestimate the importance of dressing for success.

As Job Bank USA reports, “Many job seekers under-estimate the importance of dressing well for an interview. It is an unfortunate fact that people are judged at first glance. A person’s appearance will tell an employer if a job candidate is capable of handling the job and if they are professional enough to understand what is necessary for success. Job seekers are competing and they need the whole package: the right qualifications, a great resume, an effective interview, and an impressive first appearance, and a follow-up letter.”

I know we live in a time of tolerance and culture of “anything goes,” but if you want an IMAGE that sells you, Job Bank USA says there are a few basic rules all men and women have to follow … if they want to be successful. Some of their suggestions may offend you, but the truth is certain appearances work … if you want to get a job … while others don’t.

They said:

Have a spotless, polished, and conservative look. Hair should be professional and well-groomed. All applicants need professional and conservative shoes. Clean teeth and fresh breath are critical. No strong smelling perfumes/colognes, after shave, or scented lotions. Fingernails/toenails clean and trimmed, and women with a conservative-colored nail polish. Minimal amount of jewelry. A classy and professional look is the goal. Ensure that body odor is not an issue. Bring a small-sized deodorant with you if necessary. No gum, candy, items to chew, or tongue piercing visible during the interview. At most, one pair of earrings and no other visible piercings. Try to cover tattoos. There are some who do not want tattoos presented at work.

As they say, those items will help you present the IMAGE you need to have. And if you’re already employed, here’s a tip you don’t want to miss. Dress for the job you want, not the one you already have. People will start to see you differently.

=> 5. Model yourself after a successful person you admire and respect.

You know, Mom was right. Who you hang around with makes a huge impact on every part of your life, your future, your success, and yes … your IMAGE.

As business philosopher Jim Rohn put it, “You must constantly ask yourself these questions: Who am I around? What are they doing to me? What have they got me reading? What have they got me saying? Where do they have me going? What do they have me thinking? And most important, what do they have me becoming? Then ask yourself the big question, Is that okay?”

Whoa!!! That’s huge. If you hang around gripers and groaners, you’ll end up doing a lot of griping and groaning. If you hang around losers, you’ll end up losing … more often than not. Choose your friends and associates carefully.

And if at all possible, get connected to one or two good, decent, value-driven, success-oriented, results-proven individuals. Spend time with them. Learn from them.

And if you can’t get connected to them, you can still model yourself after them. After all, there’s no need to learn the hard way. Learn from someone who has an IMAGE you’d like and has already figured out the right way to do things. Follow their example.

It will lead to better decisions … which in turn … will improve your IMAGE. As business owner Mike McKinley says, “Arrogance is believing that you’re making the right decision every time. Confidence is making good decisions with the guidance of others.”

=> 6. Act as if you belong, even if you feel like you don’t.

If you project confidence, you encourage others to have confidence in you as well. It’s one of the first lessons every sales person has to learn and sometimes has to keep on learning, day after day.

But you protest, “I’m more of the shy type … I’m not a great people person … or … I never know what to say to other people.” So you ask, “How can I possibly act as if I belong when I don’t feel that way?”

I refer you back to the “S” word in “The ABC’s Of Success.” S stands for “Study, study, study to excel.” The way you get to feel and act like you belong is to know something about the people with whom you’re going to spend some time with. Study them, or their interests, or their companies, or their families. Then you’ll have plenty to talk about and you WILL fit in.

As business leader and cleric William H. Gray III noted, “Nothing is more powerful and liberating than knowledge.”

=> 7. Project an unstoppable attitude.

About 200 years ago, Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Every great success is ultimately the triumph of persistence.” About 20 years ago success researcher Brian Tracy noted, “I have noticed one common thread running through every success story. All successful individuals have an incredible resiliency that has enabled them to bounce back, to forge ahead, and become unstoppable.”

Those are two powerful statements that deserve a few moments of your attention. Let them sink into your consciousness. They’re saying when you’re unstoppable, you’re going to win … eventually. And just as importantly, when you come across with an unstoppable IMAGE, you attract the attention, support, and business of others.

That being the case, you might be wondering how you can become unstoppable and project an unstoppable IMAGE. The answer is fairly simple. Set goals and keep on taking steps towards the completion of your goals.

In a detailed study on goal setting and success conducted in New York City, the researchers concluded that people who set goals on a regular basis succeeded 95% of the time. It was an extraordinary success rate! The mere act of setting a goal virtually guaranteed its fulfillment … IF you refused to quit along the way.

That was the catch according to Tracy and the researchers. You can achieve almost any goal you set … as long as you keep moving toward it … and as long as you refuse to allow the inevitable setbacks take you off course. And that kind of unstoppability will build your IMAGE big time.

Action:  Which of the 7 tips will do the most to improve your IMAGE? What actions will you take this week to improve your IMAGE?