How many times have you smashed your mirror?
Many people wish they could smash the mirror – so they don’t have to endure the image of themselves that appears unattractive to them.
Only the vain and the conceited actually enjoy looking at their reflections. Most people do it as a necessary chore but don’t really enjoy it. That’s because they don’t really like what they see in the mirror. When looking at mirrors, some of us see ourselves as too fat, too short, too tall, too this or too that.
But mirrors only reflect what’s there. They are not creative. They don’t make up an image of us that doesn’t exist.
Mirrors in our lives come in many forms, shapes and sizes. Not all are made of glass, though. Some come in the form of our partners, children, parents and/or friends who give us their opinion of ourselves, wanted or unwanted.
Physical mirrors reflect what we look like on the outside while the other “mirrors” reflect what we’re like on the inside.
When you look in the mirror and you don’t like what you see, what are your options? You can either accept what you see or change something about the image (you) that’s reflected. You can wear more appropriate or different clothes, you can change your hairstyle or you can decide to lose some weight.
It’s no point blaming the mirror! Hurling something at the mirror to smash it so that you don’t have to endure the unflattering image you see is not going to help you at all. That’s because the mirror is merely a reflection of reality and is not reality itself. Smashing the mirror will not change the reality of the extra lumps around your waist.
Then again, when our partners and others give us their opinion of what we do and say and it’s not so flattering, it will not help us to “smash that mirror” either by attacking the person who made the comment or ending the relationship. That won’t change the reality.
Instead, when we get that criticism levelled at us – justified or unjustified, we need to ask ourselves, “What is this person telling me about myself that I don’t know?” or “What has this person seen in me that I am not aware of?”
Too few leaders understand this skill – the skill of listening for what is being revealed about their blind spot/s. Instead, they try to “smash the mirror” by criticising their critic, denying to themselves and to others the truth of what’s been said about them, or attempting to justify what or why they’ve said or done what they have.
If more leaders instead took a good hard look in the mirror, accepted what they saw and did something about it, there might be a lot more leaders in tune with themselves and the people they lead.
Mirror-smashing leaders are simply choosing to be blind to the truth in the same way that an unhealthily overweight person refuses to spot the warning signs in the mirror when they battle to fit into their clothes.
Are you wanting to blame the mirrors in your life for what they reflect about you? Are you wanting to smash the mirrors when you don’t like what you see?
If so, may I suggest that you’re simply wanting to avoid facing the truth about yourself. I don’t know about you, but the worst thing I could ever imagine happening to me is other people knowing something unflattering about me and my not knowing about it and not knowing that they’re all thinking it.
That’s why I prefer to be told the truth about myself, though it might be uncomfortable, so that I also know what others know and can do something about it. Every one of us has blind spots. That’s why we should welcome seeing what the mirrors in our lives reflect – so we can do something about them.
Those of us who don’t want to be alerted to our blind spots and unflattering qualities are turning down the biggest favours in helping us become more than we are right now.
Alan Hosking is the publisher of HR Future magazine, www.hrfuture.net, @HRFuturemag, and assists executives to prevent, reverse and delay ageing, and achieve self-mastery.