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Dr. Foster Mobley | Weekly Wisdoms

Beard Transplants

You read the headline correctly. In case you didn't see the story going around the interweb, smooth-cheeked young men in cities like New York and San Francisco have been getting hair transplanted from other parts of their bodies onto their chins. The goal, it seems, is to emulate hipster culture in which the beard plays a central role.

I have no idea if such surgery makes a guy crave flannels and Pabst Blue Ribbon. What I do know is that it perfectly captures our belief that by adopting the outer trappings of who we'd like to be, we somehow transform internally as well. The $100,000 midlife crisis hot rod, the breast enlargement, the ankle tattoo... they're all part of this fragile hope that outward change will trigger instant inward change.

I see it all the time in leaders at all levels. Their beard transplants are subtler: new titles, new suits, new offices, new branding, new themes. But they reflect the same faulty thinking: the new trappings mean I'm a new person. A leader. But titles, degrees and corner suites don't make you a leader any more than a Harley makes you a Hell's Angel. If the inner transformation hasn't happened, you're just wrapping the same old package in a different way.

Why do we feel the need to do this? Is it because real, inward change is challenging and potentially painful? How can we encourage a diminished emphasis on appearances and work to develop the true qualities of leading: wisdom, presence, clarity and humility?

What's been your equivalent of a beard transplant? How has that served your leadership, your life?

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