A Short Hair Cut Story

I went to get my hair cut last week. It doesn’t take long so any conversation needs to get to the point pretty quickly.

My hairdresser (definitely not a “barber”) was a glamorously dressed lady with a spray-on tan and a strong Northern accent. I formed an initial impression.

Forsaking the usual “Been anywhere nice recently?” or “Any plans for the weekend?” we ventured into “So what do you do then?”. I thought, and hoped, it was pretty obvious what she did. She was cutting my hair after all.

“I coach and mentor people in leadership roles” I tried. That usually results in a change of topic. But not this time.

“Oh how interesting” came the unexpected reply. This lady had previously held several senior roles in Further Education and had turned down a major HR role to earn a little money cutting the hair of people like me whilst she supported her daughter through her education.

My initial impression was now completely replaced by something quite different.

I had jumped to a conclusion. Put somebody in a box. And I had been wrong.

This happens a lot in the workplace, and I sense the larger the “institution”, the more it happens. People get pigeon-holed. “Amy is in sales” hardly does full service to the range of skills, interests and motivations that Amy might offer if we gave her chance.

I think of a secretary I knew who retrained as a midwife.

Of an extremely successful corporate lawyer who is driven by a life-long motivation and ability to resolve disputes and bring people together. That’s a pretty transferable skill!

Or of a former UK sales rep who now has a business teaching English as a Foreign Language in Spain.

It’s not only others that we can mistakenly put in a box. Rethinking how we see ourselves comes into this as well. For a long-time I described myself as a “Business Manager in the Chemical Industry”. I hardly recognise that description now.

It can take a lot of work to get beneath the often “false self” that we have become to get at the “real self” which is waiting to be released

If we can take off our blinkers as to how we see ourselves and others we can open-up all manner of possibilities.

My hair cut cost me £10 (includes search fee). Money well spent on many levels. I left just a little bit humbled.