When You Look In the Mirror, What Do You See
People often ask what value I derive from being a career development coach. There is not enough money in the world to replace the look of joy that washes over someones face as they come to that moment in their lives when they discover their true calling. It’s when the transformation begins. They look in the mirror and ask “Who’s that? Ahhhhh, it’s me!!!” They clap their hands, and do a rough imitation of the happy dance. I’ve even seen a tear or two well up in their eyes. They have, as one person told me, “Come Home.”
We’ve all had that experience – that rush of adrenaline that first keeps us going and then helps us level off when we reach the inevitable valleys of doubt. We peer in the mirror and we gaze at that wonderful creature staring back at us so full of life, potential and creative ideas. The transformation is ongoing. Like a car driving around a racetrack, we take a checkered flag, hold it high and begin another lap in our journey toward creating a long and lasting life. Our careers, our lives and, yes, even our destinies are all held in three things: We deserve to be successful, we are worth all the effort we invest in ourselves and finally, we are who we hang around with. I see the transformation as I help people navigate their own mine fields when they grapple with and conquer the uncomfortable notion of their own success. That’s what I’d like to share with you…the cornerstone of leading a successful and balanced life.
“If You Can See It, You Can Be It.”
I was asked to coach a group of managers to help develop their leadership skills. In one of the exercises, I asked them to create the perfect company. In the center of each table I placed an 18” x 24” sheet of poster board. On top of each was a box of colored pencils. I was more than a bit nervous about this exercise. The participants were operations managers who gauged success based on the thickness of the calluses on their hands and how much grease and oil were on their clothes. As one of them told me before class, “I hope this isn’t one of those touchy-feely classes!”
Having them sit in captivity for close to an hour and color…well my heart kept moving between my throat and my stomach. I couldn’t stay in the room. When we returned from a short break I asked them to share their drawings. I had planned on devoting a forty minutes to the exercise but I couldn’t get the group to stop talking. While there weren’t any artists in the room the colors were vivid, and they drew clear and definite pictures of how they could create success in their company. There were no “touchy-feely” suggestions. Each idea related directly to a business measurable and its positive outcome. A few months later I was asked to conduct the same leadership seminar for union leaders from this company. It amazed me how aligned the visions were between two groups of people who traditionally looked at each other as adversaries.
Your success is defined by you and you alone. Quit Letting Other Peoples Thoughts, Values and Ideas Live In Your Head Rent Free
A few weeks later I received a phone call from one of the managers who’d been in my class. He wanted to know if I would be his personal coach. “That vision drawing you did with us…I want to do that for myself.”
It’s one of the first exercises I assign a new client. “Don’t tell me,” I challenge them, “Show me!” I ask them what success looks like. The minds job is to create — that is its sole function. Our minds process what our five senses experience, mix it all together and come up with an outcome we can live with based on past experiences. We all walk around with a vision of success. Our palette of success has unique colors and flavorings that articulate who we are and what we were meant to do. Our notions and opinions about our success are personal and run deep.
There’s a story I heard once about twin brothers who woke up one Christmas morning to find a large pile of horse manure adjacent to the family tree. The first brother slumped into a chair and cried. “This is all I get for Christmas, — horse manure?” He began to weep and moan. The second brother studied the pile of manure for a moment. Thoughtfully, he walked around it a few times, looking at it from top to bottom. He plunged in and started digging, flinging the manure everywhere. Startled, his parents asked what he was doing. He stopped, looked over his shoulder and cried out, “There has to be a pony under here somewhere!”
We rarely look at ourselves in terms of visions or pictures. When we do, we can lead our minds in the direction we want to travel. Close your eyes for a moment and think of a time in your life that has special meaning for you. You see the scenery, the smells, the colors and the feeling of triumph or peace and calm. All of these are pictures. You don’t see words in 24 point font scrolling across a dark background. You experience your success over and over as a vision.
In her song, A Morning Prayer, Susannah Clifford Blachly, sings, “May you find the gifts in your mistakes.” Nate no longer saw his past failings; he began to see the opportunities they gave him. His inner eye opened, albeit a bit slowly, as it does for all of us but his vision started to clear. That’s when real progress happens.
Nothing Happens Until the Pain of Remaining the Same Outweighs the Pain of Change
It begins when you state the intention, the moment you look into the mirror and admit your secret: You deserve success and happiness. You not only deserve it, you crave it, and just like with the cream-filled doughnut you denounce three or four times each week, no one but you is the wiser.
You don’t deserve success any more than the next person, but you don’t deserve it any less. No one does. Oh, I know, you can play the humility card if you’d like. You’ll receive your rewards in the next life for all your sacrifices and that is good enough for you. But why can’t you have both? The Philosopher Henry David Thoreau nailed it when he said “Most people lead lives of quiet desperation.”
Most of us spend a portion of our days with our noses pressed against the glass, watching the drama that is someone else’s life. We rationalize how we wouldn’t want their problems and issues anyway, and then swallow our daily dose of stress and go on our merry way. We just can’t “see” ourselves doing what they do. So we don’t.
We rarely view success as our impact on the portion of the universe we’ve been asked to tend. We’re always carrying around some imaginary yardstick that measures ourselves against all of creation, and when we come up short, we simply remind ourselves of some huge mistake we made that keeps us from living a successful life.
Successful people don’t feel at all uncomfortable with what they’ve accumulated in life. They feel they deserve it and won’t ever apologize for it. It’s the rest of us who spin a tale for falling short of our dreams and aspirations. Do you believe you deserve to be successful and happy? If you don’t, why should anyone else?
You Have the Ability to Write Powerful New Scenarios for Yourself.
You have been walking a path toward success since the moment you were born. Do you believe in your ability to succeed? Do you deserve success? Is it your birthright? Can you muster the courage to look beyond the next hurdle and see yourself doing the things you have always seen yourself doing and dreamed of doing?
Based on your life experiences your mind continually creates scenarios for you to justify where you are at this exact point in time. Right now, as you read this, it may be encouraging you to read more, to experience more, to learn to embrace the universe. On the other hand, that nagging little voice deep inside of you may be saying “This is a bunch of…” or “That’s good for them but not for me.” Who controls your mind? You do, of course. No matter what has come before you or what sort of gobbledygook your mind conjures for the future, at any given moment, you can literally stop the nonsense that lives inside you, rent- free. If your vision isn’t getting you where you want to go, maybe it’s time to change visions. The necessary tools are all in that precious space between your ears.
“You Deserve To Be Successful.”
What if we could capture that thought, and no matter what else we are told to the contrary, it stayed in our minds forever? Imagine it was not only our first thought, but also our last and every thought in between. That we lived our lives convinced we deserved success. Imagine how we would live if we knew no matter what twists and turns our lives took, we deserved success. Failures would become learning experiences, bad decisions would be foundations to build on and, to top it all off, we’d be grateful for what we now call” negative experiences.” Success wouldn’t be reserved for the lovely, the educated and the lucky. It would be OUR BIRTHRIGHT.”
I am proud to have guided so many amazing people toward finding their paths in this world and celebrating along with them the sweet successes they can call their own. “If you can see it, then you can be it.”
How about you? Are you ready to see yourself as the amazing person the rest of us do?
John Jurkiewicz can be reached at Jurkiewiczconsulting.com or at his web site www.jurkiewiczconsulting.com
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