Thursday, September 21, 2017

First Impressions

By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine

“You will never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Will Rogers

I was interviewing a recent college graduate for a job and asked him what his goal was upon entering college. He said, “My goal was to graduate with the highest GPA in my major.” I was impressed and asked how that worked out for him. He said he indeed had graduated with the highest GPA in his major so I asked him how he did it. He went on to tell me he did it with a good first impression with his professors. Each semester prior to his first class, he would read the first 5 chapters. This prepared him for the lectures, in which he could answer questions, and for the first exams. He had noted that while other students were busy with other things and playing catchup with their studies, he was setting the curve for their grades.   

The young man told me that as the semester progressed he felt his first impression had paid off. He felt many times his work was not up to par but received top grades because his professor expected him to do so. He felt there may have been times when his professor skipped over grading his work because it was expected to be the best.          

This young man had made an impression on me and I quickly realized the wisdom of this. We do take that first impression and use it as our standard. If an actor, author or musician we are introduced to really hits home with us, we begin to look for other works they have done. We search for that same impression as the first; looking for that initial pleasure we experienced to repeat it. Many times we are successful but there are times we feel they fall short. When they do fall short we will either go on to their next work or possibly leave them and search for another new experience. Either way the first impression kept you searching, listening, reading and possibly purchasing their next work.

So what is the lesson here for us? I think we should be prepared for an opportunity to make that first impression a positive one. Being prepared could simply mean being aware of the opportunity before you. Many of us are in such a hurry these days we fail to recognize opportunities. I’ve always taught my children to be where you are. Never allowing your mind to wander elsewhere but be in that moment and  place. Then ask yourself two questions. 1)”What is the reason I am here?” and 2) “What is my purpose for being here?”

The reason you may be here is work related. Work has taken you here but your purpose here may have a much greater pull on your life. Asking yourself these two questions can make you alert to your reason and purpose. Watch for an opportunity and when it arises make that first impression a good one. Be ready with a short introduction of yourself and your work. Be interested in their work and ask questions to show your interest. Remember you are not only making a first impression but they are as well. A good first impression sets the standard. It can keep them searching for more. The benefits from a good first impression are great.