Windows & Mirrors

What are you looking at … windows or mirrors? What does your heart contain?

In his book “Good to Great,” author Jim Collins shares that one of the factors that contributes to achieving “greatness” is what leaders choose to look through when things happen. Leaders of great organizations look out the “window” when things go well to credit others for success, and look in the “mirror” to take responsibility when things are not going well. Ineffective leaders choose the opposite: they find someone or something to blame for the lack of success and credit themselves when things are successful.

A recent example of this is Pete Carroll, the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, who looked in the mirror and took full responsibility for what many call the dumbest play ever in a Super Bowl — i.e., throwing a pass at the one yard line that was interecepted. Pete could have easily looked out the window and blamed the offensive coordinator, quarterback, receiver, or team.

Windows & mirrors also apply to our hearts. John the Baptist understood this when he encountered Christ. John simply stated, “He must increase; I must decrease.” (John 3:30). Often we seek only ourselves in our vocation, our work, our relationships, our life. We look in the mirror and choose to offer our services only when the work to be done brings us honor or enhances our self-importance or standing. Our hearts are mirrors reflecting self-centered motivations, focusing on increasing me. Yet we are called to humility — to look out the window to others — so that are hearts open up to be like Jesus, centered on humble service, loving others, and enabling them to increase.

In our hearts, a window instead of the mirror forces us to look at “what’s possible” and to focus on others. Mirrors weaken our mission and impact; windows empower it.