Have you ever looked into a cracked or dirty mirror? If so, you know it is frustrating. … There’s a reason you looked into the mirror. You wanted to straighten your hair. Or get something out of your teeth. Or adjust a contact lens. Or put on make-up. Or see how you look. Or shave without cutting your chin. Or any number of other reasons. Regardless of “why”, we’ve all looked into a mirror, some of us many times. People can’t help it. When walking by a reflective surface, such as a mirror, it’s almost instinctive for people to look at themselves.
If you’ve ever traveled into a remote, third-world country, you know that kids are especially eager to see themselves on the display of your camera. The adults are equally eager to see themselves, they may just be a bit more reserved in letting you know. You see, folks living in remote areas without access to mirrors, digital cameras, smartphones and tablets, rarely get to see a crystal clear image of themselves. Perhaps they see their reflection in water or a dirty piece of glass or a beat-up piece of metal, but mirrors are rare and digital cameras are non-existent.
What I find fascinating is that even in first-world countries where mirrors abound and everyone has multiple devices on which they can capture a crystal sharp image, few people seem to truly know themselves. And this comes at a cost.
You see, from the Ancient Greeks and Egyptians to modern folks like you and me, it has been widely understood that to grow, to develop and to improve, one must know themself. Yet there is simply too much rationalization, self-deception and other mind games going on. It’s as if we look in the mirror, but we don’t truly see. Or we don’t allow ourselves to see and accept the image staring back at us.
To grow and develop, to be a world-class leader, it’s important to have a true and accurate sense of your reflection. To see clearly. To see how others see you. To see your reflection in an unbroken mirror that is clear. Accept where you are. This is your starting point. Your growth begins at this baseline. Without an accurate image of yourself, progress is difficult, if not impossible, because you can’t track progress. In order for you to grow and develop as an individual and as a leader, you need to have a clear assessment (or baseline) of where you are today and you need to have a clear assessment of where you are as you make behavioral adjustments.
Simply put, growth is taking action, assessing the results, making necessary behavioral adjustments and then continuing the cycle one step at a time. The consequences of your actions (or behaviors) will only make sense if you can clearly assess the impact of your actions on yourself and those around you. Having a clear and unbroken mirror is a critical part of the growth and improvement process. Objective measurement is a key in the personal growth and development processes.
Be honest with yourself. Seek input from others whom you trust. Self-reflect. Ask questions. Consider your motive. Be objective. These are ways to see clearly in your mirror. Don’t play mind games with yourself or rationalize. Growth is a shaping process. Rarely does significant growth overnight. Sometimes perhaps, but rarely. There are two types of improvement, breakthrough (or quantum) and continuous (or incremental). Both are beneficial and both require a clear, unbroken mirror to assess progress (forward or back).
When you have a clear mirror, accept where you are and at the same time be willing to stretch forward. You don’t have to be perfect to enjoy great emotional health. Accept your imperfections for today while striving to improve yourself tomorrow. A clear, unbroken mirror is necessary for growth and true assessment of your baseline and the progress you’re making.
Do you know yourself intimately? Is your mirror clear? Are you growing?
As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.
Dr. Robert Gerwig is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]LeadStrategic.com.
Photo by Author
This article was supposed to be published Friday 13 March, but because of my own confusion about the date, was not posted. My appologies to Dr. Gerwig and to his readers.