I’m sure that you’ve heard the old saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. However, according to book publishers, that is exactly what we do. Book publishers will tell you that your cover design is one of the most important decisions that you can make when creating a book.
The reason is that research has proven that when making a decision to purchase a book, most people spend about 3 seconds looking at the front cover and about 7 seconds looking at the back cover. Maybe they will flip through the book quickly; nevertheless, if they like the “look” of the book then they will buy it. Some may flip through the book to see of there is any content – but most don’t. They purchase the book based on its “look.”
Strangely enough, people do the same thing with you; they judge you by your “cover” – your image.
We all create an “image,” in people’s mind. That “image,” can often be quite different that we have of ourselves. Yet, other people’s image of us may be more correct. Yet, their image is more correct. Why? Because it is sometimes hard to see ourselves as we appear to others and that appearance is, usually, more aligned with the “true” you. (We are just “too close to the forest to see the trees.”)
For example, you may feel that you are a good person, a hard worker, and a good and trusted friend who is always fun to be around; however, others may see you as a person who is insecure, who gossips, and is whiny.
True, you might say that what others think of you is “their” business. Yet, that is not necessarily true, is it? What others think of you or the image they have of you in “their” minds is a factor in how successful you will be in life.
To analyze your “image,” think back to what your friends “jokingly” say about you. (Having been a stand-up comedian for many years, I can tell you that there is always an element of truth in any joke.)
Have you heard your friends say, “Oh, you know Debby, she’s always upset about something” or “Well, Steve, we knew that you’d be late” or “Christy, you’re so negative; you’re such a little worry wart, but I still love you.”
Many times, you will laughingly agree and say something like, “Yep, that’s me…that’s just who I am!” Some will even wear these “negative images” as badges of honor – it brings them attention, albeit negative.
Think of what people have said about you. Have you been happy with their comments (perceptions)? These “little jokes” are your true image in the eyes of others. (By the way, I have done this experiment and it is somewhat disturbing, and I have made – and continue to make – the changes that I need to make.) Successful people know that, sometimes, you have to go through some discomfort in the early stages of anything you want to do, in order to, eventually, get what you desire.
Look at these “funny comments” and don’t make excuses as to why these comments aren’t true, because – I’m sorry to have to tell you – they probably are. If you want to change that image, take each “comment” and write down what you could do to change “your” thinking, in order to produce a more “pleasing” result. (It’s not about changing “their” view of you, it’s about changing “your” view of you and your actions. This change only happens when you change how you think, because you must think before you act.)
Analyze the “comment” and get to the root of the condition. For example, regarding the comment, “Well, Steve, we knew that you’d be late,” ask yourself, “Am I always late? Why?”
It can’t be because you are busier than other people, because there are a lot of people with more important jobs or more demanding lifestyles than you, who are always on time.
Do you think being late all the time makes you appear to be more important than others? It doesn’t. It makes you look like you don’t really care about others, that you’re disorganized, and that you lack time management skills. Is this the image that you desire for yourself? Is this the image that will help you move up the proverbial corporate ladder, gain new clients, keep friends or make life at home more peaceful?
To change an image, produce thoughts that will focus on the solution and not the excuses to the problem.
Using the previous example, you might write an affirmation to yourself such as, “I am conscientious of others. I am more organized with my work and take the time to systematize my thinking and actions, so that I am always on time.” Write this on a few index cards and place them in locations where you will see them throughout the day – on your bathroom mirror at home or your desk at work; put it in your briefcase or your purse or wallet.
Repeat this affirmation over and over again. Through repetition, you are implanting this affirmation into your subconscious mind, and when your subconscious mind reminds you about your affirmation – which it will – listen and do the action required: set an alarm clock, clean up and organize your desk, systematize your appointment book or PDA, return calls and emails promptly.
Keep the index card and the new image you have to yourself. Don’t tell others what you’re attempting to do – just do it. Let them discover for themselves these changes. Let them create a new image of you in their minds; an image that you, yourself, like. In time, just like a book that has not only a terrific cover, but also provides a good read, you – as well as your friends, family, and co-workers – will view you as a best-seller.
Do you allow negative thoughts and emotions to control your mind and make you unhappy? Do you let other people's problems distress and agitate you? You can stop all this.