The world is a beautiful mirror.
I tend to find that in most circumstances of our lives, what we see most often and others are the same things that exist in us. This seems to be especially true when we have negative traits that seem to be in everyone around us.
For example, if I constantly find the people around me to be arrogant, it just might be true that I am seeing in them a small reflection of what is a prominent characteristic in myself. Our brains have an incredible ability to hide this information from us. And it truly appears as though the problem is only in others.
Jesus uses hyperbole to describe this problem. In Matthew 7 he reprimands:
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?’Matthew 7:3, NIV
No one actually has a plank in their own eye. It is telling, though, that the plank is made of the same substance as the sawdust. This is the underlying principle of the mirror.
This is equally true only of positive and negative characteristics. If I tend to be highly trustworthy, I will likely find trustworthiness in others. If everyone around me is a thief and a liar, it might to me well to check the mirror for some honest personal reflection.
As leaders, this principle tends to flow through our teams. I have observed this in many different organizations. Business and non-profit, paid and volunteer. I have even come to recognize that the people begin to resemble one another in physical presentation. They look alike. They dress similarly. They speak in similar ways.
What is the application for you? What is it that you are constantly finding in others that frustrates you? What are you finding in others that you like?
Seeing your own reflection clearly can be difficult. Your brain has worked a lifetime to hide from you the very things you wish to see. Often, it takes the eyes of another to clearly see what seems hidden to one’s self. Choose someone you trust, and someone who will speak candidly. Resist having this kind of conversation with a person in whose eye you see the ‘sawdust’. Find a trusted, neutral, third party.
And then turn on your listening. Just absorb and contemplate. You may find that you want to defend yourself. That is only reinforcement that you need to dig in and listen.
The mirror is beautiful because it reveals to us that which holds us back. It shows us the way to self improvement. It unveils leadership deficiencies. It is an important part of your growth.
Are you willing to look in the mirror?