After getting my license in Cosmetology, I immediately enrolled in the instructor program. Simultaneously, I started my first salon job in which I worked five days a week. This left two twelve-hour days for me to take my Instructor classes.

As a result of working full time, I ended up taking an entire year to complete what was normally a six-month program. It was hard but deep down, I knew it was worth it.

There was some one-on-one class time with my mentor Lyal McCaig. This involved great conversations about what it took to be an instructor. It was my favorite part of the course. Being able to pick his mind was a treasure that I will always hold on to.

When it came to the practical part of the training, it took some learning on my part to be an effective teacher and communicator. It involved a lot of outlines, lecture and hands-on instruction on the clinic floor.

The expectation, was for me to show the students how to perform techniques while monitoring and check the quality of their work. Being able to describe what the students needed to do, actually gave me a better understanding of the techniques.

I talked through how the position or angle of a strand can change a haircut. I explained why using the wrong product for a particular service can affect the end result. I demonstrated the proper handling of salon equipment, as well as other tips and tricks.

Eventually, this training helped me identify what could possibly be going wrong with a service and prevent it before it happened. Prior to this, I would just take over the service and show the students what to do. I found that many times they were just working as the saying goes, fake it till you make it.

With greater understanding came stronger technical skill, for both the student and myself.

Over the years I noticed four things:

Being an introvert was not a good fit for this industry.

My reclusive nature went against the grain of what I chose to do for a living. People, lots and lots of people came in and out of my life every day. There was no getting around it. To be a Cosmetologist or an Instructor, I had to deal with being an introvert.

Having previously been in the Army made it hard for me to understand civilians.

My expectations of having someone just say, “Yes” to every command was unrealistic. This was what I was used to. So, when I asked a student to do something and they opted out, it drove me nuts. To me, “No” was not an option. I had to let that go and realize that sometime, people will just say “No” and I can either get upset or find someone who is willing.

Being a male in a female world was not working out so well for me.

Guys seem to always want to fix things when most of the time women just want their feelings or experience validated. They didn’t want my advice, just an ear to hear what they were going through. This was huge for me, because when someone said to me, “I have an issue…,” I was usually quick to give my opinion on a solution, or I would dismiss the problem altogether.

You know, Suck it up, buttercup…

Showing my frustration pushed people away.

I’ve been known to go from 0 mph to 90 mph in a flash. When I get fired up, my ears turn a shade between red and purple. So you can literally see that I’m frustrated. It seemed this happened often because most of the time, it was all about me. If a situation wasn’t going the way I wanted it to, then the dragon fire would erupt. I wouldn’t yell or scream at anyone, however, I know that the heat was felt.

No one wanted to be around me when it happened.

Next post: Some changes needed to happen…

This post is part two of a three-part series. If you missed part one click on the link.

How A Hair Massacre Got Me Here


Visit David at and read more of his work here.

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