Who knew that hair could reveal so much about oneself? No, I’m not talking about the artistic flare and the statements we make about our personality by the way we do our hair—true as that may be. This runs a bit deeper. It’s not about hair, per se, but about the things that reflect our identity. The things that we feel should be ‘just so’ for us to feel confident and secure. In the past 24 hours I discovered (again) that my hair plays a substantial role in my ‘identity’.
Now, gentlemen, before you decide this blog has nothing to do with you because it’s ‘girl talk’, I must tell you that the underlying message is inspired by several of the greatest men living today, in my opinion, and the opinion of hundreds and thousands—even millions—of people. These men are John C. Maxwell, Scott M. Fay, and the faculty leading The Maxwell Team through various aspects of leadership training.
In the Maxwell Team we are currently studying John Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, led by Scott Fay. Intertwined with the teaching, are stories from Scott’s life that exemplify various Leadership Laws we are learning.
One of the laws we looked at this week was The Law of the Picture. It is important that our words and our actions complement each other. The old adage, “Practice what you preach”, comes to mind. One of the key things we learned is that followers are always watching. No matter where we are or what we are doing, consistency and authenticity are important.
It is most intriguing when the mind is constantly fuelled with the challenge of good role modeling and leadership. Suddenly the subconscious assesses everyone’s behaviour, including our own. It’s kind of like when I bought my little Mazda 3. I had never really noticed them until the day I sat in mine and felt that driver seat give me a little hug. I pulled out my cell to call Tim. “Honey,” I said, “I found ‘my’ car. It felt like it hugged me when I sat in it.”
From that day on I saw little Mazda 3’s everywhere I went. I’ve had that car for 4 years and still they catch my eye every time. I am very aware of them because my car is a constant reminder to me. In the same way, what we expose our mind to we will be aware of in our behaviour and in the behaviour of others.
And that brings me to the story of one of my worst hair days ever…
I am a person of calculated risk. I love risk but I like to know just how much is on the line before I take a plunge. Once I’m in, stand back because the splash is coming! This is true in almost every part of my life—including my hair.
My willingness to have a bit of fun with my hair began about 5 years ago. I had gone to the same hairdresser for almost 3 years and he had tried numerous times to convince me that red would be the perfect colour for me. Going from my natural blonde to ‘fake’ red was a big deal for me until the day he surprised me. I recall seeing my carrot red hair in the mirror and having a momentary panic attack, choking down my shock and giving him time to style it before passing judgement. I’ve been a red-head almost ever since.
Each hairdresser since then has earned a few liberties the previous one never had. And my current hairdresser got to be so good and understood me so well that I could give her a quick “here is what I have in mind… now do what you like” and it would be done to perfection. The last two haircuts, prior to last night, lacked that perfection but not enough to make me say something or walk away. In the past 24 hours we encountered that next level of frustration.
I’ve had a blonde ‘chunk’ in my hair for about two years and yesterday was the day for change. All day I felt a touch of anxiety or nervousness, not so much at trying something new but in fearing that it would not be what I had imagined.
As I described what I wanted, the anxiousness left and I had that sense of anticipation. This lasted until I saw the end result. There is a time to speak and a time to refrain from speaking. I opted for a time of not speaking and decided I would return home re-style it myself and wash if necessary—just as I had with the previous two cuts—and hope that would make all the difference. It didn’t.
I called the hairdresser back immediately and booked a ‘fix up’ appointment. It was bad. (I have pictures to prove it!)
About two hours later I received a message, encouraging me to let myself adjust to the hair. Some things one cannot adjust to—for example, a random serpentine pattern of blonde hair, coming down in various abrupt and blunt angles with no particular gentleness, evenness or pattern. There was nothing to ‘ease’ the blonde—which was considerably more orange than blonde—into the dark-brown-hair-with-purple-hints below.
My initial reaction was disbelief. However, by the time I was gazing into my handheld, rear-view mirror in our room, that disbelief turned to panic and a determined unwillingness to let no one see me until after my morning appointment. Eventually I emerged from our bedroom and let my family see me.
The entire time that this was happening, I lectured myself on multiple topics: It’s only hair… She didn’t mean to ruin it… Don’t overreact… Be kind… Be gentle… It’s okay to expect a decent hair cut and colour for that kind of money so it’s okay to go back and get it fixed… Be honest…. Watch your tone of voice (Followed by round two of the same… then round three…. and so on)
This worked well. I relaxed and slept like a baby, confident that everything would be okay in the morning. When I arrived at the hairdresser’s I calmly, albeit firmly, addressed the issues. I started with the fact that I was double for a bad hair colour than my normal rate, without even a discussion. When she had adequately explained why, I graduated to the issues with the hair. I was anxious. I was tense. I was frustrated. But I held it back.
They told me I would have to pay for the ‘repair job’. I have had approximately 6 times in my life where I went to a hairdresser for a ‘repair’ and never was asked to pay. However, I agreed to pay, knowing that it would be ‘the end of an era’.
Seated in the chair, a depressing black cape drawn tightly around my neck, we were discussing all the options when the owner walked in and said, with exaggerated cheerfulness and an ‘Oh-My-Goodness’ kind of gasp, “Cute!! That is so cute”.
If I had thought she knew nothing, I could have overlooked that little attempt at appeasing my displeasure. But she knew and she knew well what had happened. In that instant, every ounce of resolve to ‘do nothing reactionary’ disappeared into oblivion!
“Cute?” I exclaimed, eyebrows raised, sarcasm noticeably present. “Really? You call this cute?” I paused. “Tell me honestly… Would you pay that kind of money for something like this?” I turned to show her the worst angle, then turned back, glaring at her in frustration.
“I see what you mean,” she said with a bit more understanding. “But the concept is nice.”
“I like the concept. There’s part of this that I love, but not that!” I said pointing to one ‘peak’ off to the left side that spiked about an inch higher than any other part of the colour.
Immediately I realized that my frustration would feel like an attack on the hairdresser so I tried to defend her and assured the owner that we would find a resolution.
After some deliberating we decided to add dark hair as lowlights through the lower sections of blonde and create a gradual blend of colours to hide the uneven colour. The end result: an amazing hairdo! I thanked my hairdresser, paid and went to work.
A few hours later I sent my hairdresser a message, thanked her again and apologized for my reaction when her boss came in so flippantly.
The little lesson I got from her boss, on caring about what others are feeling, was a good lesson to learn. I am almost always chipper and positive and I’m suspicious I’ve done something very similar to someone else already in my life!
Most importantly it was a not-so-subtle reminder to guard my heart, find my identity in the things that really matter, take ownership when I mess up, and keep in mind that someone is always watching me.