Did I Really Look THAT Awful?

connection entrepreneurship humor influence Jun 07, 2024

When was the last time you had a really awkward moment in public? That happened to me this week.

With the snow melting here in Utah, its officially hiking season. One day I woke up early, threw my water bottles and backpack in the car, and made for the local trailhead to start the day off right. I nabbed a great parking spot, and began walking the tree-filled trail up the canyon… all before 6:45 am.

I was totally winning at life.

The trees were gorgeous, the little creek bubbled, and a bird chirped sweetly in the distance. Everything was going great until 5 minutes into the hike I reached into my backpack only to find I had left my water bottles in the car.

Should I keep going or turn around?

Since I was hoping to get a few miles in, I decided it was best to run back to the car, grab my water and start over. Feeling really annoyed with myself, I huffed it BACK down the trail, past the lame creek, past the dumb trees… and will someone tell that bird to shut up? Right as I entered the parking lot, however, I saw another couple getting ready for their own hike.

The man looked at me, and in a way-too-cheerful voice asked, “WOW if you’re getting off the trail now, what time did you begin at?”

Now for the more perceptive among you, this man had the impression that I had been hiking for a LONG time. However, as you know, I had only been hiking a very short time. So I can only deduce that after a mere 10 minutes of hiking, I evidently resembled a water buffalo in labor. Do I really look THAT awful when I hike?

Still recovering from his question, I quipped something about early birds getting worms, and gave an breathless haggard look that probably bordered on psychopath. Not knowing how to respond, he politely (and uncomfortably) laughed, and he and his partner briskly started on the trail. I could have sworn she whispered, “Don’t look back… just keep going.”

I’m totally losing at life!

But as they disappeared into the trees, I realized my true dilemma: Should I resume the hike… and give off stalker vibes as an angry, sweaty man following them into the mountains? Or should I drive away… too embarrassed to admit what had really happened?

And so in efforts NOT to get the cops called on me, I drove my car to another trailhead and started my hike all over…. with the water bottles this time.

Let them listen to the stupid bird.

(Photo: Actual view of the canyon. Gorgeous, right?)

What does this have to do with influence?

As you know, I had not hiked for very long, but I was in the right place, at the right time… and (hilariously) looked the part… to influence this couple to think I HAD been hiking for a very long time.

So many times people think that skills, qualifications, or credentials (on their own) are more than enough to get them chosen. But they forget one crucial lesson: they need to consistently be in the right place, at the right time, talking to the right people… and they have to look the part.

Take Harrison Ford, for example. You know… THAT Harrison Ford? Way before Star Wars and Indiana Jones, Ford was a struggling actor who had some small parts in a few films. He was doing the right things at the right times… but he was unsatisfied with the results. And so, in efforts to support his wife and two young sons, he became a self-taught carpenter. His genius move? He started doing carpentry work for A-list actors living in swanky Malibu, CA.

They saw his talent and hard work, and one thing led to another, and he was introduced to George Lucas. The rest was history. The lesson? He was consistent in doing the right things, and upped his game when he started talking to the right people.

Or consider Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx. She created seamless hosiery that helped women feel more attractive, and was trying to sell it. Though it would one day turn into a billion dollar idea, no one “got it” at first. She plugged away and sent out sample after sample to no response, until someone at Neiman Marcus agreed to give her a 15 minute window of their time. Sara bought a plane ticket to Dallas JUST for this 15 minute conversation, and ended up changing clothes (in a bathroom stall) to show the executive what her product could do.

Impressed, the executive gave her a trial run at 7 stores, and you know what Sara did? Instead of leaving this opportunity to chance, she physically WENT to these stores, created sales displays, and helped the sales ladies sell the product on the floor.

Today Spanx is valued in excess of a BILLION dollars all because Sara put herself in the right place, at the right time, intentionally talked to the right people… and looked the part. In short, she made it happen.

Thomas Edison once said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Sometimes reaching your goal can appear as entertaining as watching paint dry, but if these stories have anything to teach us, its that if you stay consistent, intentionally build relationships, put yourself in right environments, and (sometimes hilariously) look the part… you will influence people to choose you.

So here are some questions to consider:

  • How can you show up for your goals today?
  • Who should you be talking to?
  • How can you be more consistent?
  • How can you look the part?

And while you’re at it, pack your water bottles. Trust me… you’ll thank me later.


CHRISTIAN HANSEN has gone behind the scenes in some of the biggest organizations in the world to find out the reasons why some people get chosen and why others don’t. As the #1 bestselling and LinkedIn Top Ten ranked author of “The Influence Mindset: The Art & Science of Getting People to Choose You” Christian helps teams and organizations who want increase their earning potential by standing out from the crowd and influencing people to choose them. With degrees from Brigham Young University and The London School of Economics, he’s helped thousands of individuals position and sell themselves. A fan of international communication, history, and choral music, he currently lives in Utah with his wife. Reach him at: TheChristianHansen.com

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