Looking at the “Man in the Mirror”

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Looking at the “Man in the Mirror”

leadershipLast week, I was running errands and picking up a few things. In one of the stores, Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” came on and, of course, for the rest of the day, it was stuck in my head. Admittedly, I was (poorly) singing the song in the car on my way home and realized how the lyrics of the song apply to what I tell clients all the time.

For those who are not familiar with the song, the chorus goes: “I’m starting with the man in the mirror/ I’m asking him to change his ways/ And no message could have been any clearer/ If you wanna make the world a better place/ take a look at yourself and then make a change”

What is keeping you from success?

We want to be successful. We want to move up in the world and do better. However, how often do we blame our surroundings or environment for our lack of success? How often do we dodge responsibility for our own future? If you want to improve your situation, your first step should be, as MJ puts it, to look at the “man in the mirror.” It seems simple enough, but taking the time to self-reflect is a difficult thing for most people to do; it requires an entire mindset change.

So let’s say you are looking in the mirror, ready to take responsibility and make necessary changes. Now what?

Self-reflect on how you are presenting yourself

First, examine how you perceive yourself and ask is that how others perceive you too. Sometimes, we carry a false sense of reality about ourselves. We may think of ourselves as confident, but others may see us as arrogant. We may try to put on an image, but others see us as we truly are. Because of these blind spots, it is imperative to ask others for help.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Ask a trusted colleague or an objective third party to observe your behavior and give honest feedback. With this information, you can root out the discrepancies between how you see yourself and how the world sees you. You can become more self-aware and use what you have learned about yourself to influence future behavior.

Look at where you can be more successful

Next, look at what you would like to improve. It could be the workplace culture, a relationship with a colleague, or getting a promotion. Whatever it is for you, look at the relationship between your behavior and the outcome.  Is there a correlation? Is there something you can do differently? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. You cannot achieve higher results in life with the same mindset and behaviors that got you there in the first place. Once you are aware of your behaviors, you can more clearly see where you have fallen into this trap.

Change your mindset first.

Finally, it’s time to “make a change”. Start with a change in your mindset, as this will turn into a change in your behavior. Examine where you have a fixed or unchanging mindset. Having a fixed mindset keeps you in the rut of the same results.


Fixed: My colleagues are more creative than me, so I’ll never get a promotion.

Growth: How can I learn to think out of the box more?

While the person in the example is self-aware that he could be more creative, he starts off with a fixed mindset with no room for improvement.  He has labeled himself as a person who is not creative and who will never be creative. This is unproductive and does nothing to lift him out of his current situation. What situation do you have a fixed mindset about? How can you turn that into a growth mindset?

A change in your mindset leads to a change in your behavior

Growth mindsets naturally lead to changes for the better:


Fixed: My colleagues are more creative than me, so I’ll never get a promotion.

Growth: How can I learn to think out of the box more?

Behavior Change: Collaborating with and bouncing ideas off of creative colleagues.

Outcome: You learn colleagues’ creative thought processes and improve upon your own ideas.

When you combine self-awareness and a growth mindset, the options are endless. Here, his growth mindset led to reaching to others for help. He was able to get helpful insight from his colleagues and refine his own skills. In addition, he formed better relationships with those around him, expanding his network. Because of this outcome, the person is more likely to receive a promotion in the long-run, all because he changed his mindset and behaviors.

Looking in the mirror leads to success

While I never thought I would use a Michael Jackson song as business advice, the words of “Man in the Mirror”  hold true. So the next time you hear the song, ask yourself are you self-aware? Do you have a fixed mindset anywhere? What can YOU change? By asking yourself these questions, taking responsibility, and making a change, you are one step closer to success.  

2018-11-28T07:04:01-05:00 By |Blog|0 Comments

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