I don’t consider myself the most fashionable person. I work with what I have, making sure my clothes match and are mostly up to date. I enjoy finding unique pieces at local boutiques because I’ve grown to abhor mall shopping. And although I often get compliments on my attire and style of dress, I’m sure you wouldn’t find me listed among the fashionistas in town — and I’m okay with that.

At a recent networking event, however, I found myself questioning my look.

I met a very nice woman who is an image consultant. You know the ones who assess your skin tone and attitude and tell you what colors, cuts, and styles look best on you. Oh, and she also does a closet analysis where she comes in and reviews the clothes you have to determine what you wear most, what works and doesn’t, what you should have donated to a thrift store years ago, and what items need to be added to your wardrobe.

Until meeting her, I thought I was doing okay. But as she explained her craft, I suddenly began to feel less than adequate in my attire. I mentally observed my appearance — as an outsider might see me — to examine whether I was wearing a good color to emphasize my skin tone and eye color. (Brown and brown; how difficult is that?)

As I snapped out of my self-judgment — and internally affirmed that I was quite confident in my image, as is — I realized this must be how people feel when they meet me. Ha!

Yes, I’ve sensed that uneasy guilt complex emitted when meeting someone who has obviously been avoiding writing the book they’ve been considering (and talking about) for years. 

“Oh, you’re a book coach; nice,” they often remark as they glance away, seemingly searching for an escape. “I’m working on my book . . . (or finished my manuscript years ago, or have been thinking about writing a book, or know someone who recently published a book),” they remark, as if that comment somehow lets them off the hook for not finishing what they started — getting published.

But far be it from me to heap a load of guilt upon you (oh, I mean “them”). That’s not my approach. You know when you’re lagging in your achievements. You know what needs to be done. And you probably realize, at the moment of meeting me, that you need help starting or finishing your book project. But I’m not the one to tell you that.

You’ll either figure it out, or you won’t.

Because, after all, I’m looking to work with professionals who already know they want to write and publish a great book — people who are committed to getting the book done, not just talking about it. 

So, if we ever meet at a networking function, don’t wiggle and squirm when I tell you who I am and what I do. Don’t look the other way or mumble about your colleague who just published her book. Either own up to whatever is keeping you from publishing, and set up a Get Acquainted Call with me, or simply say, “Nice to meet you, Anita,” and keep it moving.

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