Guest Post: Leaving preconceived notions in the dressing room

This is a guest post from Janet Chihocky’s blog. She is CEO and President of JANSON Communications in Manassas, Va.  

Janet Chihocky

CEO & President

JANSON Communications


Two words can stop any progress and openness to trying something new:

Preconceived notions.

One word describes the basis of preconceived notions:


Three simple words, but how they limit us! They certainly limit me.

Successful people don’t let preconceived notions limit them in their professional endeavors. Jazz flugelhornist Chuck Mangione said it best: “I tend to not want to put labels or categories on the music, only because people come with preconceived ideas about what they’re going to hear, or won’t come for this reason.”

Why do we not want to try something? I’m sure there are various reasons. I suspect we would be hard-pressed to articulate it, so the common reason is “because.” I’ve used it.

“Because” is not an answer. It’s an excuse…an incredibly weak one. If we are to progress in anything, we need to get rid of the “becauses”…preconceived notions…stereotypes.

Let me offer a recent example.

I was shopping for new clothes to update my corporate wardrobe. I was outside BCBG, a trendy store that definitely wasn’t me. It caters to women younger and hipper than me.

However, the outfit on the mannequin in the store’s window caught my attention.

My first thought was how nice the outfit looked. My preconceived notion was it wouldn’t look nearly as good on me. Why? Because it’s not my style. The outfit was very attractive but also cutting edge. Not my style.

Being a CEO and conservative, I have this preconceived notion of what my professional wardrobe should be. I’d already hit my favorite stores and was happy with what I purchased.

There was no need for me to stop in.

Surprisingly, I did.

Two sales associates—much smaller and younger than myself—came to help. The ladies did their sales job well, pushing me to try on outfits I initially thought were not me. They definitely took me out of my comfort zone.

Despite my initial impressions, I liked what I saw in the mirror…mostly. About 60 percent of the outfits looked good on me, and I felt good about them.

The experience shattered my preconceived notion of this trendy store and its chic fashions. I walked out with more shopping bags than when I entered. I felt good about now being in the chic crowd—while still maintaining my conservative look.

I set my preconceived notions aside. I grew. Not all chic clothing is for me, but I now know some are.

We need to step out of our comfort zones, toss aside our preconceived notions and see what happens.

We may not feel comfortable and may not come away with something we like. There is one thing, however, we will experience…


As writer and actor Ben Stein (famous for this iconic role) said, “It’s amazing what ordinary people can do if they set out without preconceived notions.”

What have you done lately to grow?


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