Sometimes it seems hard to remember at work that we are much more than just our job descriptions. Every morning when we sit down at our desks, the world tells us who we are and how each of us is doing. I know from experience that each of us has the capacity to grow beyond our job description -- whether it's the job we fulfill at work or the job description that others implicitly give us as a spouse or parent or friend.
Here's a quick and pleasant way to start changing into the person you want to be. Stop looking at your reflection. Most people can't pass by a mirror without taking a peek at their own image. I don't think it's vanity that pulls us to the mirror. Not many people have the looks to warrant being vain. Call it curiosity. Maybe it's an instinct, some sort of self-preservation, based on being able to see if there's any menace standing behind us.
The problem with looking into a mirror is that you see an image of yourself as you are, not as you can be. That's obvious, but if you want to grow, if you want to change something about yourself or the situation you are in, you need to focus on what you are striving for. I don't recommend spending much time in front of a mirror unless you are so pleased with yourself that you see no need to change.
There's another sort of reflection that is harder to avoid than the image we see in a mirror. That's the reflection of ourselves that we see in the reaction of others to us. Again, I don't think it's vanity that motivates us to look at others and search for their reaction to us. Feedback is important, and without it, we can't tell how we're doing and how to do better. Have we offended someone? Have we worn out our welcome? Or, have we been appreciated, approved of or admired? We find cues to our impact by how others react to us.
I was driving home from work recently, after a frustrating day. I was uneasy about an error I had made that, frankly, didn't make me look too good. You know how uncomfortable that can feel. We have all dropped the ball at some point in our careers or personal life. Somewhere on Highway 63 between Columbia and Jefferson City, my worrying stopped, abruptly. It was as if I had turned my car and headed in the opposite direction. One moment, I was mulling over the events of the day; then in an instant, I realized what a waste of time it was to fret over the impression I made on others. I have driven the 30-mile commute from work at least 6,000 times. On this particular trip, I rearranged my thoughts and realized that it was time to quit looking at my reflection, whether in a mirror or in the lives of others.
Maybe you want to change. I know I do. I don't intend to stop growing and learning until my last breath. I want to learn new skills. I want to develop new strengths and insights. I want to improve my relationship with people who are important to me. By taking my eyes off my reflection, I can see what's possible.