Mirrors, Plants and Dimmer Switches
One of the cool things about good mirrors, they reflect what’s there. There is no opinion, nothing that tries to make you feel good or bad, they just reflect. The mirror does not say, oh those pants make you look fat, that shirt is to tight or that color is wrong for you. The mirror does not say that style is outdated, or that outfit is odd. Those are judgements. That good mirror shows you your physical appearance. What shows you how we appear in the world? I went to a lecture Friday night that highlighted personality traits. My initial response:
Me: I am not spontaneous and impatient.
My Friend Bonnie: Your house goes on the market on Thursday because you decided 7 weeks ago to move.
Me: Well, you sort of have point.
It was a magical moment when I could embrace how others see me. My friend Bonnie was perfect; she presented a simple fact, free of judgement. It was like a moment when you look in a mirror and get a bit of a shock because there is food caught between your teeth. The awareness of what is fact is an opportunity to make choices on what is so.
How do you appear in the world? What mirror do you have?Many of us rely on people. People, like some mirrors can be distorted. What they say can be tinged with opinions and judgments. They want to give you “feedback,” which often you don’t even ask for. Or the conversation starts with a “you need to,” based on their frame of reference and not yours. When this happens often, it can lead to
Just plain annoyance – obviously they don’t get you, or
Confusion and self-doubt; you think, am I really that messed up because all these people keep telling me stuff I need to do.
How do you recognize the “good” mirrors? These are the people in your life who reflect what is so. A good mirror allows you to work with what you have. As an example, I now accept my nature is spontaneous and impatience, I have a better understanding of why I am irritated with certain phrases like slow down and think it through. It’s not in my nature to operate that way. Everyone has their strengths.
Forget improving weaknesses, the saner, more effective approach is to understand your strengths1 and work with those. Arthur Miller was a brilliant playwright. How ludicrous it would have been to say, he was weak in physics and should have studied harder? Albert Einstein, was a great physicists, no one suggested he take up baseball. As ridiculous as this sounds, has the same thing happen to you? Are you pushed towards a goal, career or objective that has nothing to do with your strength? There are books and workshops available to help you find your strengths, but there is something powerful when someone can validate the findings. Understand the nuance between people who cheer you on or coach you versus the good mirrors.
There are plants that need full sun and those that need shade. You can try everything, water, food, music, but a plant in the wrong place is not going to grow. You can talk to it, encourage it all day long and it’s not going to help. The same is true for people who cheer you on and coach you. If you’re in the wrong spot, in pursuit of the wrong goals, you’re not going to flourish. Good mirrors will give you facts on how you show up. How you use it is up to you. In a room full of good mirrors on Friday, I showed up like a text book example:
When a soft touch is needed with a tender voice, [I] have to work hard at toning it down. [I am like] a shining light with no dimmer switch.2
How do you show up? What are your strengths? Who are the people that can give you facts about yourself? Find your mirrors, work with what you have. Do you need shade or full sun and flourish? And if you don’t have a dimmer switch, proudly shine.
1This philosophy is from StrenthFinders by Tom Rath. Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day? Chances are, you don’t. All too often, our natural talents go untapped. From the cradle to the cubicle, we devote more time to fixing our shortcomings than to developing our strengths. Learn more at http://strengths.gallup.com/110440/About-StrengthsFinder-20.aspx
2Leslie McGuirk, The Power of Mercury (Harper Elixir, 20165) page 139