Life can be a big stage. A large production that includes several different roles with stage settings changing from scene to scene; requiring quite a bit of preparation to pull off the end result. It can be a huge mass of opportunity to take on many, many characters throughout your lifetime. Thus, there are many goals that I have set for myself for the big stage of life. In some respect, there are many roles that I desire to carry out. As a teenager I learned an invaluable lesson about becoming each of those roles.
My daddy always told me to dress for the part I wanted in life well before I even got the part. I used to ponder his advice; almost thinking it was a simple, non-complex group of words that simply meant to wear what defined where I was headed. From a blouse, to pants, to shoes, even my jewelry, I would consume myself with wanting each of them to be on point. I wanted each of them to make a statement that I was becoming exactly what I was wearing. I would ensure that if an executive position was what I wanted in the future that I dressed accordingly and consistently as my money could buy me. I did it for years and continue to do so. However, before my father passed it hit me as to what he really meant. My initial comprehension was not complete. I have learned that dressing the part on the outside was only a tenth of the calculation he spoke of.
His advice meant seeing the part, thinking the part, acting out the part, and then looking the part. Each of these components brought together the entire role that I desired to be cast.
- Seeing the Part – Being who I want to be, even ten years from now, means that I have to envision myself in my desired role. If I want to be an executive or nationally recognized author, then I needed to actually see myself in those roles. Essentially, I have to choose to become a visionary of my own life. For everyone, if can not see yourself in a particular space in life, getting there or becoming that role is less likely to happen. How is it possible to see yourself in a role? It is easier said than done, this is true, but take a moment, close your eyes, and see what you look like carrying out the role you want to be cast. Be it a designer, business owner, fortune 500 company exec, or even a professor; whatever it is, visually put yourself in the shoes of that role or roles. What does the role do? How does the role carry out its responsibilities? How did role develop? What does the role require for dress? What behavior is required for the role? What thought process is required for the role? How does the role interact with others? All of these questions can help you see how you will actually become the character.
- Thinking the Part – After I could see, then I could start thinking in terms of achieving the roles that I set out to become; believing that the role or roles were attainable. If the saying ‘your altitude is determined by your attitude‘ is not true, then I do not know what is. My attitude towards the roles I want out of life means everything. If I am negative or slow to be optimistic about a situation, nine times out of ten, the outcome of what I wanted does not happen. When I am positive, the outcome is more acceptable even if it does not happen exactly as planned. Once my thought process became the thoughts of who I was to become my father’s advice made that much more sense and my actions that followed aligned accordingly. Do not fall victim to blocking your own desires by becoming your worst enemy. Believe that you are capable of becoming whoever it is you want to become and that the process may include both desirable and undesirable moments that must be embraced to move forward. Think according to the role you are looking to be cast and be positive in that process.
- Acting Out the Part – Your best foot forward should always be your daily choice. So what you have not become the well-known actress, company exec, or world-renowned chef, JUST YET? You still have to act as though you are. If your hopes are to become a company exec and currently you are an intern, every day act as though you are already the company exec. If you know there is a certain level of skill, management technique, integrity, decision-making required to be a company exec, start sharpening those skills today. Acting out the part prepares you for the day that you will actually carry out the role. It is a way to truly develop your potential. it is an intentional way to go after what you want. That is what I try to do every day. Every single day, I consider myself stepping onto a stage; a platform ready for dress rehearsal; practicing for the moment that I see coming in my future. It is a dress rehearsal that will eventually lead to opening night.
- Looking the Part – Finally, or so I thought, I was able to do the easiest part of dressing for the part I wanted. It was necessary to see, have the right attitude, and carry out the part before I was able to actually focus on the blouse, pants, shoes, or jewelry. Who cares about the attire, if you do not believe in yourself, have the right attitude, or are not equipped to carry out the role? But get this, just recently, ‘looking the part’ became even more expansive in meaning to me. Looking the part also includes seeking out individuals and resources around you that help you eventually become the part. Mentors, industry leaders and experts, supportive friends, and helpful associates are key to pulling off the role. Know that these individuals will not necessarily fall in your lap. They will not come running to you to help you. Research, ask around, seek out those close to you that you admire and have made great choices in their industry. Get their advice. Get their feedback. Incorporate their choices into your rehearsals. Those individuals will develop help pull your role together. You have to be intentional in looking the part.
The caveat to each of these steps is that while you are busy believing, thinking, acting, and looking the part, the brick and mortar or production set is being stabilized for what is to come for you. If you keep yourself busy working on each of these steps, one day you will look up and find yourself actually cast into the role. Before I became an author, I once saw, thought, acted, and looked like an author. Before I became a business professional, I once saw, thought, acted and looked like a business professional. And before I knew it, without a lot anxiety and impatience, I became each of those roles. The dress rehearsals became opening night, every day of my life. Dressing the part is much more than just wearing the right blouse, pants, and shoes. It is about the total package required to play the lead character in life’s production!