Man in the Mirror


John Maxwell explains the "Mirror Principle," --that in leadership, the first person we must examine is ourselves.

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

~ Michael Jackson “Man in the Mirror”

In leadership, the first person we must examine is ourselves. That’s the Mirror Principle. If our self-perception is distorted, then our attempts to influence others will be misguided or even manipulative. 

The first person I must know is myself; this brings self-awareness. Human nature seems to endow people with the ability to size up everybody in the world but themselves! When steering a team, as when driving a car, neglecting to check your blind spots can cause you to wreck.

The first person I must get along with is myself. This leads to a healthy self-image. If we think negatively of ourselves, we will seek validation from others—extracting value from them. On the contrary, if we have a positive view of ourselves, we will be secure enough to add value to the people around us.

The first person to cause me problems is myself. Admitting this truth yields self-honesty. You never win when you play the blame game; you only whine. And complainers drag down the morale of everyone around them.

The first person I must change is myself. This empowering attitude paves the way to self-improvement. “Everyone thinks of changing the world,” said Leo Tolstoy, “but no one thinks of changing himself.”

Here are three basic questions to ask the person in the mirror.

What do I want the future to look like? (PICTURE)

Vision is a picture held in your mind’s eye of the way things could or should be in the days ahead. Vision connotes a visual reality, a portrait of a preferred future. The picture is internal and personal.

You will only be able to accomplish your vision once you’ve painted it on the canvas of your mind. You must define the dream clearly and compellingly before you pursue it. As Michael Hyatt observes, “If the vision is not clear, no strategy will work and it will be impossible to prioritize correctly.” Most people skip the step of clarifying their vision, and their dream remains fuzzy and unspecific. As a result, they never achieve it.

How do I move toward my vision of the future? (PLAN)

To fulfill your vision, you have to have to stop stargazing and start strategizing. People who see their vision materialize are the ones who have devised concrete plans to enlist supporters, gather resources, and upgrade their abilities. By translating a lengthy journey into smaller steps, and by creating mile markers to chart progress, a strategy inspires action.

Am I using my time wisely? (PRIORITIES)

Time cannot be managed. It cannot be controlled in any way. It marches on no matter what you do, in the way a taximeter keeps running whether you are moving forward or standing still. Everyone gets the same number of hours and minutes every day. Nobody—no matter how shrewd—can save minutes from one day to spend on another. People talk about trying to find time, but they need to quit looking. There aren’t any extra minutes lying around.

You can‘t manage your time. So what can you do? Manage yourself! Nothing separates successful people from unsuccessful people more than how they use their time. Successful people understand that time is the most precious commodity on earth. As a result, they know where their time goes. They continually analyze how they are using their time and ask themselves the question, ―Am I getting the best use out of my time?

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