The glass slipper was not an accident, and why you might need an executive version of your own.
I’ve always thought it was weird that when the bell completed the midnight hour’s toll, all the magic surrounding Cinderella vanished except for the shoe.
Why is that? And frankly, as a bit of a shoe connoisseur, I’m not sure I would have left it on the stairs. I would have reached down, swiped up the sparkle, and kept on my merry way. Seriously, we’re not talking about some $5 flip flop you bought at the beach one summer; we’re talking Louboutin-type fabulousness.
The whole situation seems incredibly suspect. Something tells me the Fairy Godmother had other plans up her sleeve…
Why? Because Cinderella asked for her Fairy Godmother’s help in getting to the ball. What the brilliant Fairy Godmother understood was the “ball” was the near-term goal. What Cinderella actually needed was to get to her, “and they all lived happily ever after” moment. It’s what we’re all searching for, isn’t it?
So why was the shoe a critical element? I hasten to guess that we would have a very different ending without the shoe on the stairs. That single sparkling shoe had two crucial roles.
1. It left the Prince with a visual reminder of the fantastic experience he’d just had with this person. Imagine for a second what happened right after Cinderella left. Several hundred other pretty girls (and their ambitious mothers) probably thought, “Hey up. Pretty girl is gone. Now is my time.” and pounced. But the Prince had a visual souvenir, something to remember her by. It’s also the professional equivalent of six back-to-back candidate interviews for a hiring team. Like all the other candidates for the Prince’s hand, the hiring manager ends the day with a stack of sparkling resumes.
Are you leaving the professional equivalent of a shoe? People CHOOSE the Future You when they hire you or add you to a project. To choose you, they have to recognize you and your potential and then remember you.
2. It made it easy-ish for the Prince to find her. No shoe? Where would he start? It’s not like she tossed him a business card as she booked it off the property. Sparkly shoe + the right foot = the right girl. I know the Prince wasn’t that brilliant, but I give him credit for tenacity. Flipping back to our ordinary non-fairytale world. Do you know how many business cards I have in a box from all the conferences I attended? Far too many, and if I’m honest, I’d be hard put to remember where I met most of them. I’m not proud of my overall follow-up activities. Are you? While in-person conferences are off the books at the moment, I think we can all imagine the number of people we’ve virtually met and promptly forgotten. There’s a reason why there’s an abundance of trinkets and schwag at professional conferences; they’re more effective than business cards. How many of you are guilty of clicking the “connect” button on LinkedIn and assuming the other person knows why? 90% of the people who connect with me either send me generic messages like “We have mutual friends. Let’s connect.” or nothing at all. If I walked up to you, shoved my business card in your hand, and immediately ran away, you’d think I was rude. While I don’t always give myself top marks in this area, I think we could all take a page out of Cinderella’s playbook and remember to leave a shoe.
If you’ve made it this far, I’m hoping you’ve started to think about what kind of glass slipper you could leave on your proverbial stairs. Now other questions like “What’s your ball?” “Who’s your Fairy Godmother?” “Do you have the courage to take big risks to get what you want?” “Is the Prince a person, or maybe just the title?” and last but not least, “Do you have an idea what your — and they all lived happily ever after — might be?” — are also critically important in exploring the Future You. But today, we’ll focus on the shoe. I have one question.
Why is it we don’t create graphical representations of our potential? I think we should.
That Fairy Godmother — she’s a smart one. She didn’t just sort out a pretty dress and a golden carriage. She made strategic magic, looking at and delivering against Cinderella’s long and short-term goals. It’s why I think, while a visual is essential in this modern working world, having a brilliant Fairy Godmother in your corner gives you a strategic edge.