In the professional universe, standing out for its own sake is a terrible idea. In the professional space, there’s a good way to stand out and there’s a bad way to stand out. The good way to stand out is to do two things:

Be your very best self and exemplify the highest values of your organization. Click To Tweet

The bad way is… well, it’s any other way. I’ve seen unfortunate people stand out from the crowd for all sorts of reasons: strange hairstyles, weird facial hair (on men, that is!), dresses that are too tight (why, oh why, do so many women do this?), grotesque fingernails, huge eyelashes, suffocating perfume, plunging décolletage, gigantic hunks of jewelry…. the list goes on and on. These are the kinds of things that will make someone think, “Oh yes, I remember her. She was the one whose hair was loaded with greasy gel. Ugh! No way is she going to work here!” And if you’ve ever seen me speak, it’s one of my main messages I leave the audience as a Keynote Speaker in organizations around the world: “When people remember you for your appearance, you’ve done something wrong.”

Leaders understand and accept that it’s about the details. Those little details can make us stand out for both the right and the wrong reasons. Those details will be of different importance from person to person.

It’s something I stress in my corporate training. For example, if you work for an airline and spend most of your time behind the check-in counter getting passengers ready for their fights, your clean and shiny shoes are important. But they do not have the relevance that your makeup and hair have because most passengers spend their time staring at you over the counter while you check them in for their fight. The impression you leave on their mind is an impression they will take on the fight and on their way home. Their memory is vivid when they book the next flight with your airline—or not.

One jarring detail can be enough to get you consigned to the category of loser—or create an unwanted distraction, as we can see for example when we take a close look at the neckties worn by the current president of the United States.

Do you stand out for the right reasons?
When people look at you, what might they be distracted by?
Is it time to make a change for the better?