This cliché is meant to convey the message that things aren’t always what they first appear to be. This is especially applicable to people.
At its core, this is absolutely a true statement. You should make it a point to get to know someone before you reach any conclusions about who that person is, and you cannot do so if you don’t bother to look past a person’s appearance.
So, while the meaning of this message is true, you can’t live your life counting on everyone else doing what they should do, at least not all the time. In fact, people rarely do what they should do. More often than not, people do what they want to do or what they have been taught to do or what most people around them are doing.
As an example, it is absolutely your right to grow a shaggy beard, cover your face in tattoos and dress up in leather. If you do so and then head out to a job interview for an investment banking position, you are less likely to be successful in that interview because of the way in which you are presenting yourself. It may be unfair, but it is reality.
Both the interviewee and the interviewer in this example have choices to make. Those respective choices are certainly easier and more likely to result in a successful interaction if the core message is transmitted and understood. If the messenger is disguised, the likelihood of a successful transmission and receipt of that message is much less likely.
Never hesitate to be who you really are. It is equally important to be personally accountable and self-aware so that your presentation is aligned with your objectives.
As the author of your own book, you can make your story more appealing to potential readers by designing a cover that is consistent with the contents. In other words, you will increase your chances of writing a successful book if your story reaches your intended audience.
By Scott Arney, Chief Executive Officer, Chicago Patrolmen’s Federal Credit Union.
This article is part of Arney's new series, entitled A New Use for an Old Cliché.
This installment is part of Arney's educational series, entitled The Serial Decision Maker.