The Problem with “Handsome Clothes”

My son, who is 6, likes to refer to any nice suit of clothes as “handsome clothes.”  So, when I travel to visit with clients, or when we get ready for church, or head out for a nice event, he will ask me, “Daddy, which handsome clothes are you going to wear?  I want to put on clothes to make me handsome, too!”

Both my wife and I have attempted to explain to our son that clothes don’t make him handsome.  That he is handsome no matter what he wears.  That who he is and how he treats others is much more important than the clothes he wears.  But, for now, that doesn’t quite make sense to him.  In his 6 year old mind, it’s the clothes that make the man.

I sometimes think that we take the same “book cover” view in our work.  In other words, we focus on the superficial, the trivial, the less-than-substantial, the inconsequential and miss what really matters.  Here are three examples:

  1. We focus on being busy with tons of activities instead of getting results;
  2. We focus on asking donors instead of engaging them;
  3. We focus on implementing tactics instead of developing an effective approach;

In each of the above scenarios, we pass on the most important aspects of our work and, instead, focus on the less than important aspects.  We focus on the “handsome clothes” – and when we do that, we miss the opportunity to really make a difference.


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