I learned something today at my haircut appointment: the stylists who are successful may or not be good at cutting your hair.
What they are good at is making people feel good. And that’s no accident. It’s a calling.
Take my stylist, Melissa. Her initial education was in the medical field. Raised in California, she always wanted to be a hair stylist, but when it came time to go to college, her father, who was financing her education, didn’t believe she could make a living at it.
“It’s difficult to be successful in this industry,” she told me, “so he said that as long as he was footing the bill, I needed to choose something else. He thought it would be best for me.”
When Others Send Us On the Wrong Path
She liked nursing. She liked helping people, liked assisting in surgery, and enjoyed all the things she was learning. But on the eve of taking the next step in her commitment to the profession, she found herself in tears.
“I told my mother, ‘I just want to do hair.’ She was like, ‘Still?’ I think my parents thought it was a phase and that I would eventually get it out of my system, but I just couldn’t.”
Fortunately for Melissa, her mother realized they were way past a whim and that her daughter was dead serious. “Then go do hair,” she said.
Finally, after years of doing something else, Melissa had permission to do what she’d always wanted to do.
It’s Empowering to Follow Your Own Voice
Today, she’s more than successful, with a robust clientele and a position as a Redken instructor. She travels the country teaching other beauty professionals styling and coloring techniques, and recently returned from a trip to New York where she worked with other stylists around the country to bring awareness to the A.I.D.S. epidemic.
“It was really empowering,” she says. “We don’t realize it, but stylists are in a unique position to talk to people about these things. Clients don’t come to us for just a haircut—to many of them, we’re a special type of confidante, someone they can really open up to.”
For Melissa and many others, styling hair is about a lot more than the artistry of the job. “Those who are really successful in this profession love people,” she said. “We like to make them feel good. That’s why I enjoyed the medical profession as well. Maybe in another life I’ll be a nurse, but for now, hair is it for me.”
Though exhausted at times from the long hours she puts in, Melissa really enjoys her work and is still happy with her decision to go into the profession. Her clients are particularly happy that even when she tried to ignore her inner voice, it just wouldn’t go away.
Of course, as Melissa’s story illustrates, it always helps to have someone who encourages us—who gives us that final little push or “permission” to move forward.
Hopefully you have someone like that in your life. If not, you may try ignoring your voice for a while, but eventually you’ll realize it’s not going anywhere—you might as well listen to what it has to say!