Interestingly enough, some days, even though I’m generally a workaholic and super excited to start my work day, I don’t feel ‘It’. What I mean by “It” is that I’m not energized and ready to tackle the projects. Sometimes this is my own doing. If I’ve been working night and day to achieve my goals, I may be caught up. If I’m caught up, then I go into work to an empty inbox. For a guy like me that’s very disheartening, I always do better when I have a long list of actionable items. So my blaise could be based in no critical work needs, it could be a tough weekend, I may not have slept well because of my bad back, or it simply could be a grey / cloudy day. Squirrel Moment: It’s amazing how the weather can affect your mood, isn’t it? Anyway, just because I’m not energized doesn’t mean I call in sick with a ‘mental health day’ and just hang out on the couch and binge on Netflix all day. I still get dressed.
On these days, I go in and look at all my suits, sport coats, and ties and I just don’t get excited to play my tie game. A bit of a background on the tie game that I play every morning. Several years ago when I first joined my current employer, a government agency, I went to a business function dressed as a businessman. I was employed in a business outreach role so it made sense to me to do what I always did; I dressed for the part, i.e. khakis and button down shirt. This is the modern businessman’s uniform. After the event I was pulled aside by a VIP in our organization and told that I need to be in a sport coat and tie when I was in public representing the organization. That was one of my earliest lessons about the public sector being different than the private sector. A subject that could be a whole series of blog posts, or maybe even a blog unto it’s own.
I didn’t own many coats or ties, maybe I had one or two for interviews, but that was it. You would think I would have bought just a few ties and worn them over and over. I responded a bit differently and in a way that’s more inline with my personality. At the same time that I had joined the organization, I also was finally getting my weight under control after a lifetime of struggle. Different people store their excess fat in different areas of their bodies when they gain weight. With my bodystyle, when I put on weight, I find that my neck gets disproportionately large compared to the rest of my body. I say this because even when I bought XXL dress shirts, I still would have a problem buttoning the top button where everything else would fit. Even if I could get it buttoned I always felt like I was being choked. The point is with the combination of a personality that wanted to to please the VIP, and the ability to wear ties comfortably for the first time in my life, I responded by starting a sport coat and tie shopping binge that continues to this day.
This binge resulted in a dozen sport coats, quite a few suits, and hundreds of ties. I easily own a different necktie for every work day of the year. I play a game with them, I don’t repeat them. In the mornings I go through my pile, and put together combinations of a tie I haven’t worn yet this year, a matching shirt and suit or coat and dress slacks. It’s a little ritual that gets me primed for ‘business’. Going back to my ‘eh’ days, Some days I look at the pile and think, ‘eh’. I don’t even want to go through the process of finding something cool to wear.
So on days when i’m not feeling it, when my mood is better described as melancholy or blue and I’ve got nothing pressing to do that will energize me, I fall back on my secret blue weapon for getting going. Even though I could probably get away with an embroidered polo, especially if i’m not out in public that day, I don’t do that. I don’t look for anything exciting, I simply reach for the first tie with blue in it and my blue blazer. Blue Blazers, are not interesting, not exciting or creative, at least not from a dress perspective. Like the button down polo in the private sector, they are just a ‘uniform’ in that I don’t have to think about it. A tie with some blue in it plus blue blazer goes with almost everything. It’s perfectly acceptable professional wear from standard office interactions to meeting with Presidents and VIP’s. My blazer also has a secondary purpose. It reminds me of an old motivational Q&A quote I love:
Question: What’s the hardest piece of equipment at the Gym to use?
Answer: The Front Door.
The point i’m trying to make is that the blue blazer is kind of like the front door. It’s old, it’s well worn. It’s the kind of professional garment that’s near invisible compared to something like a power suit. It doesn’t seem important, but it is as powerful as the front door to the gym. It’s the gateway to the activity, even when I don’t feel like doing any activity. I put it on and I start to getting into work mode. It gets me started. It’s like there is a little ‘click’ that happens when it’s on. My mind starts revving, and I mentally make my first list of the day. This doesn’t work perfectly, not every time, but in many instances my blue blazer gets me into the ‘groove’. The blue blazer is just the thing that kicks me from park into low gear. From there I can switch gears as the trip calls for it. As anyone who drives knows, it is always easier to accelerate if you are already moving versus trying to get going from a dead stop.
So if the blue blazer is the tool to get moving when i’m not in the mood, then i’m forced to ask myself, what other areas need blue blazers in my life? I have some answers: What’s my blue blazer for the blog? It’s sitting at Panera Bread with a hot tea. What is my blue blazer for the book? I still need one here! What’s my blue blazer for my health and working out? I find that new media I want to watch while working out gets me going so I have learned that I better keep some shows que’d up. What’s my blue blazer for interpersonal development like being more social, making more friends, or interacting with the kids? This is a really difficult for me and I haven’t found one for this area yet. Like all of the ideas I wish to share in my writings, I think there is more to this subject that I can reflect on and there is some value in that reflection.
I’m told i’m a highly motivated individual. In many ways it’s because I can get myself started, and once started I can move. My blazer, and those other things in my life that function in a similar matter are the keys to getting myself active. We are humans, not machines. We have ups and downs, good days and bad days. Because of this we all need these blazers.
The question for me is the same for my readers and listeners. Do you have any areas in your life where you need a kickstarter? What is your blue blazer? Do you even have one for all the areas in your life you want one? If not, what areas do you want to improve?
I keep thinking that this tool, this article of clothing is like other starting points that are around us. It can be invisible in plain sight. But looking for it, acknowledging its tremendous power is something we forget to do, but really should do. Like the company mission on the wall, after a very short period of time we stop seeing it, even if rereading it daily would help inspire us. I would highly recommend spending some time thinking about the blue blazers in your life. These questions are important: Where do you have them? Where do you need them? I think it’s a good idea to get started on asking yourself these questions, knowing the answers can only help you achieve your goals. If you aren’t feeling like you want to do some serious introspection on what it takes to motivate you to start the things you want and need to start, I have a tip for you. You could always put on a blue blazer, it works for me.