My morning routine has been pretty, well, routine lately. Wake up. Pray. Brush teeth. Wash face. Take shower. Put on workout clothes. Get to work. Repeat. Day after day after day.
But one day recently, the routine was a little different. I had been invited to speak at SXSW V2V in Las Vegas as part of a panel on similarities and differences between risk in the NFL and in business.
So I woke up and repeated the first few steps like usual. But then I ditched the workout gear for some new digs: a white button-down shirt and a fitted grey suit with blue and black stripes. This is my go-to suit anytime I have a big event. Needless to say, I was looking good, and that notion was reaffirmed by my wife (thanks babe!) and others around me.
When I got to the airport and boarded the SkyTrain, a man sitting down immediately got up from his seat and moved to the other side so I’d have room. I kindly accepted his gesture. When I arrived at the security line, the TSA agent asked if I was an A-list member—even before he could look at my boarding pass. A few seconds later, after the agent and I laughed and joked because he kept calling me Traveler, he responded, “I work for YOU Mr. Traveler!”
I was being treated like an all-star, all because of the suit.
While there’s value in dressing nice, I’m not primarily concerned about that. What this experience caused me to ask is this one simple question: what if we treated each other like this every day? What if we treated one another as if each one of us were a first class citizen, suit or no suit? What kind of an effect would that have on our world?
In business, there’s a common theory called the Pygmalion effect (or Rosenthal effect), which says that people tend to reach the level of expectations placed on them, whether high or low. The theory goes back to belief. If you believe someone is excellent, and treat them as such, they will more often than not meet that expectation. It has been proven in business settings with bosses and employees and in classroom settings with students and teachers.
What would the world look like if we took this theory into our everyday life? If we believed each other to be excellent and treated them as such? That would shake some things up. It did for me the other day. I felt the effect of the Pygmalions around me and my day was made. Now it’s time for me to have that effect on someone else.