Don’t judge me by the shirt I’m wearing.3 min read

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Don’t judge me by the shirt I’m wearing. Do we have the tendency to judge others by their favorite sports team or political affiliations, do we judge them based on the car they drive or the clothes they wear? You know we do, heck, we’re humans.

I learned a valuable lesson many years back. Back in the eighties, the University of Miami Hurricanes and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish had a heated football rivalry. There was actually one game that t-shirts were being sold titled “The Convicts vs The Catholics.” Simply, each team didn’t like each other very much.

I remember watching Lou Holtz the coach of Notre Dame pacing up and down the sidelines. He uses to get down on one knee and pick grass from the field. I thought of how much I simply didn’t like that guy. The question lies, why did I not like him? I didn’t even know who he really was as a person. I was simply making a judgment on him as a person based solely on the team he represented.

Several years later I had the honor of actually hearing Lou Holtz speak. I had a chance to meet him personally, what a great guy I thought. He has a unique character, he was funny, knowledgable, and carried on a great conversation. What a cool person.

Why such a large disparity of perception from my earlier days with him as the coach of Notre Dame? Because I actually took the time to get to know him as the person he was opposed to my distorted view of him based on his team affiliation.

Are we making judgments on people for all the wrong reasons? If you are a leader of an organization, are you making a judgment of someone on your team without really getting to know who they are? Is there someone right now on your team that seems a bit off of their A-game and are not running at 100% productivity? Is there something going on behind the scenes that we don’t know about that could be affecting their attitude and lack of productivity? Sit down and have a conversation with that person. Ask them if all is all right. Ask if you can help them in any way. When you begin to get to know who they are and show an authentic interest in them as a person, they will begin to open up and share more of what’s really going on.

If you’re in the process of hiring and there’s a resume that has a couple of things that concern you, are you ditching that resume or are you actually going to call that person and discuss those issues? By having a conversation with that person, you just may find that they may be the perfect person to represent your brand. When you as a leader of a business or organization are clear on your culture, you’ll know whether an applicant fits into your organization or not.

The message here is that we must be really clear on how we are actually judging people. We must be conscious of not to judge them on the immediate perception of who they might be on the outside based on our eyes and mind. Take the time, get to know them, talk to them, find out who they are, see what they’re all about, listen to what their interests are, on how they show up. After this conversation, you just might feel that those are the people that you want in your environment to make you better as so you can at the same time make them better.

Whether we’re a Yankee or a Red Sox fan, Miami Dolphins or a Jet fan, a Notre Dame, Florida Gator or University of Miami fan, a Republican or Democrat. It simply doesn’t matter as none of this shows or tells the world who we really are.