Many years ago I was introduced to the statement “If you can’t be professional, at least look professional.” It was made by my boss and became his slogan to explain why even though we were IT professionals, when working on site with clients, we needed to dress in business professional garb. Developers are assumed to want to work in sweat pants and bunny slippers (well, okay, perhaps just comfortable clothes), but our boss wanted us to look professional and with that, perhaps possess some extra polish over the typical expectations of an IT type.
There is something to be said for this approach. If you see someone in a suit, you assume a certain level of power and success. Sometimes it is not just the clothes but their watch, their car or other indicators we use to identify or stereotype a person’s stature and abilities. Some may refute using these visual clues to size up a person, perhaps even call it shallow or petty, but if we are truthful, at least for the masses, we know that visuals are used to make first impressions.
Use this mindset to consider my youngest son’s new soccer team. This year he has joined a travel team that is part of an up and coming league. His old team, a group of kids who had been playing together for the past two or three years, went off in various directions with a couple heading to other travel teams and their coach deciding not to lead them this season based on several legitimate reasons (schedule conflicts, etc.). So we sought a new home for him and were led to the new league by his old coach.
We are still getting a feel for the new team and the staff in the new organization. Communication has been somewhat inconsistent but good enough. Schedules have been hampered by weather but they have done the best they could. And as the season was set to begin, more rain caused the first game to be postponed due to poor field conditions.
But the most impressive thing we have seen so far is the focus on professionalism. Sure, practice has involved skills and conditioning, but it has also included the aspects of the game that are often taken for granted. Simple things that many of us may not remember having to be told like how to line up for warm ups, how to huddle around and take a knee, and how to look like a team by running in a line and lining up straight for drills. Basics.
There is also an emphasis on looking good. The team has been issued practice jerseys and game jerseys with directions that their game jerseys are only to be warn during the game, not to the game, not home from the game, during the game. They have also been issued team bags for all their stuff. And warm ups – my son is actually looking forward to cooler weather due to the warm ups. They look sharp, they feel sharp and they may even play sharp.
That is the idea. Make them look good and feel good and hopefully they will put it all together and play well (sorry, just couldn’t massacre the grammar for the rhythm). Look professional, be professional. Just like many things in life, having the right tools to do the job makes it easier. It invokes confidence and hopefully that will show in their game play.
Will the “total package” bring out the “Total Package”? Perhaps- time will tell. It should at least gain them respect from their opponents. I recall in high school basketball that we had a pretty impressive warm-up routine that would set a tone with our opponents early. We also had a pretty impressive team that year that could pull it off and back it up. I am hoping for some of the same for my son’s team although it is still too early to tell how it will go.
For now we will go with the look, the excitement and learning the aspects outside of the game, as well as improving skills with multiple practices a week. We will be fully committed without over doing it (a topic for another post) but at least show our support in an unwavering way. We will treat him and his team with respect, especially since they appear to deserve that level of consideration. And we will share in his pride as he looks the part of a pro soccer player!