The other day I was listening to Mary Barra tell a story about when she first became CEO of General Motors. She noticed the dress code, that was explained in great detail in the employee handbook, was 10 pages long. She spoke to Human Resources and said, “I want it to simply say, ‘Dress appropriately.'” She got a lot of push back from Human Resources and one particular manager, but in the end, her “Dress appropriately,” prevailed.

Barra’s argument was simple: If I have to explain what “dress appropriately” means, then maybe you shouldn’t be working here. And, like I always say to my children, “If you’re not sure, then the answer is, “No.”” Barra’s example is a great reminder of how we either raise or lower the bar, and not just any bar—our bar. And especially in a pandemic. You know what I am talking about. Where have you lowered the bar recently in work or at home?

We are all adults here, right? Truthfully, General Motors shouldn’t even have to write, “Dress appropriately,” in their employee handbook. Raise YOUR bar. What if we were the best dressed person in work every day? That will never work against us. We should not be looking for what will get us by, we should be shooting for the best. We shouldn’t be targeting acceptable, we should be targeting exceptional. The lower bar is NOT our bar; it may be someone else’s, but it’s not ours. We raise the bar and then aspire to that. And if you think this is just about dress codes, you missed the point.



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