The other day I watched a very compelling movie produced and directed by Clint Eastwood called "Flags of Our Fathers." It was the story of the WWII battle of Iwo Jima and the resulting media coverage in the US promoting the famous picture that resulted from that event. The message that came from that movie was interesting and one that we as business leaders should understand if we want to be successful.
The message was that image is more important than reality. According to the movie, the celebrates picture of the six Marines raising the flag atop the pinnacle of Iwo Jima was not taken when the flag was first raised, but in fact, at a later time after the battle, during a relatively calm moment. Although not staged, the raising of this flag did not occur during the heat of battle, as implied, and the men who raised it were not the same ones that planted the flag initially.
Our leaders at the time were quite aware that this photograph, and the men portrayed, was not as it seemed, but they seized the opportunity to create a gripping image of our brave Marines at a time when this country needed hope and the support of those at home. It worked.
As a business, it is vital that you maintain an image that reflects exactly what it is you want the public to see. If you own a restaurant, you don't want patrons to walk in and see dirty tables, floors, or counters, the negative image will stay with them and your business will suffer. If you own an auto repair shop, you want your employees driving clean undamaged vehicles. If you own a florist, you want all of your flowers to be fresh and attractive. If you are a doctor or a lawyer, you want your clients to see you as being successful by creating images of professionalism in your office or waiting area.
Be very careful when making decisions about your image. What people see is what you will become. It only takes one moment for your prospects to decide if you are credible or not. The image they see will determine your success or failure.
Hanging in my office, is a picture of Pete Rose, the baseball player and manager, sliding into home plate in the style that made him famous, headfirst. He was once quoted as saying." ...And there is one more important reason that I slide headfirst. It gets my picture in the newspaper." Be careful with your image, it is more important than reality, because it defines reality.