Last week, for the first time since I reached puberty in the late 1970s, I changed my primary method of shaving. Ever since I began shaving, I had been using an electric razor. Last week, I switched to shaving with a wet blade. This post is about my reasons for the switch.
Before I launch into the story, I’ll note that this post is an allegory for the fertile mindset with which we approach the Jack Polymath work for our clients.
That mindset must be nimble, and open to all approaches, without resistance from entrenched personal habits or biases. This is the mindset that fosters creative thinking — the very quality that our work demands.
On shaving, I was hiking with a colleague recently and for some reason we got on to the boring topic of shaving. He described his approach, which involves a blade and certain shaving cream. I mentioned that I had always used an electric razor, learned from my dad way back when.
After the hike, that conversation got me thinking. You see, since I started consulting in 2008, the business need for shaving decreased considerably. And my old shaving approach is sub-optimal in this dynamic.
In my work, face-to-face client meetings are the exception. Most of my days are consumed with performing the work — usually in our home or the local library.
So there goes one big reason for shaving daily.
So why shave? Well, another reason might concern “dating”. But my wife has informed me that she likes me better with stubble on my chin than rockin’ a super close shave.
So there goes a second big reason for shaving daily.
What’s left? I don’t think my personal health is impacted one way or the other whether I shave daily or every 1-2 weeks.
I have noticed that when I’m unshaven, and I’m wearing scruffy outdoor-work clothes, I will often be asked to show my ID when I use a credit card. This never happens when I’m dressed well and shaven.
For some people, this “indignity” received from cashiers might be enough to get them shaving every day. But I’m actually delighted to experience this dynamic and understand what it says about “first impressions” and “signaling”.
So with no compelling reason to shave daily, I have found myself, over these past few years, shaving every 3-14 days or so.
To do so with an electric shaver requires me to use two different devices (see the bottom right picture at the top). First, I use a trimmer to trim my scruffy beard down to stubble. Then I use the electric shaver to finish the job.
This is a cumbersome, somewhat painful, and usually inefficient shaving experience. I’ve put up with it for the last 9 years because, hey, it’s only once a week or so. I’m sure everyone does something they don’t much like at least once a week.
But the conversation with my friend got me interested in trying out shaving with a blade. So I got onto Amazon, and I ordered the best selling/top recommended double-sided blade, shaving cream, and shaving brush. See the bottom-left picture at the top. (BTW — I love this general Amazon axiom: if most people buy it and most of those people love it, it’s probably good enough for me.)
The pictures at top-left and top-right at the start of this post show my chin “before” and “after” a shave with these new tools. The before picture shows my chin sporting an 8-day growth.
The beautiful thing about the blade is that it doesn’t care whether my chin has an 8-day growth, or a 1-day stubble — it works just the same in all cases. Moreover, it’s a delightful experience.
If I shaved daily, this blade system would be too cumbersome for me. But given my sporadic and infrequent shaving pattern, this new system is perfect.
It’s the right tool for this particular job, in this particular context.
If someday my work life takes me back into an office setting daily (or my wife’s sensibility changes :)), I’ll return to my electric razor.
Point is: I’m not using an electric razor just because that was what my dad taught me back when I was 16. I’m using it if the circumstances dictate it.
That is how we approach the Jack Polymath work.