Spare me the limp

A few people who know me well know that I have a passion for shoes. You’d never know it by looking at the four or five pairs of sensible togs through which I rotate each season at work, but my closet is crammed with colors and styles. Back in high school, I wantonly bought footwear based on looks and price–the cuter and cheaper, the better. I paid little heed to comfort or durability; I wanted my feet to look good. I didn’t care how they felt or how long the shoes would last.

I didn’t care, that is, until I landed a job after college that required me to wear formal business attire every day. My collection of pumps (hey, it was almost 20 years ago) ballooned quickly, but I soon found myself longing for the days I could wear that pair, the one that didn’t make me long to take it off by 9am. When the day came that I realized my closet had transformed itself to revolve around that one comfortable pair of shoes, I knew something had to change before my wardrobe became completely uninspired.

I’m pretty active and I spend a lot of time on my feet. I prefer to walk to someone’s desk rather than to call. I’ve been known to zip out to the factory floor to understand a product or a process rather than waiting for an explanation. I move around a lot. In that context, my shoes had become a critical component in my daily accomplishments, but I treated them as window dressing. The necessary mental recalibration didn’t take long, and now I see my shoes as an investment.

I still buy shoes for looks, but they have to feel good, too. And they have to stand up to heavy use. I’ve walked ten miles in Boston with my nephew in three-inch heels–and I comfortably wore the same shoes again the next day. I’ve moved office furniture in classy pumps. I’ve trekked across grassy fields in high wedges to watch my son’s cross country meets after work. All without missing a beat.

(For those of you waiting for the punchline, thanks for sticking with me so far. I promise this post isn’t just a glimpse into my sometimes frivolous inner self.)

Here’s what I think. If I didn’t invest in good shoes, quantity notwithstanding, I’d spend more time working around sore feet than getting things done. The same goes for my computer and my phone–and even for the people who work for me. The things that are most important to my productivity are the things that deserve the most investment. I don’t just mean monetary investment here. (For the record, I buy most of my shoes on sale.) I mean an investment of care and of attention. I should devote my resources to the tools, people, and activities that have the most significant impact on my output–and ultimately on my success.

Thought for the day: don’t skimp on the important things or you’ll end up walking with a limp.

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