The Man/Woman in the Mirror
Sounds like the title of a novel, doesn’t it? Well here’s what it means:
Sean Covey states: “Before you’ll ever win in the public arena of life, you must first win private battles with yourself. All change begins with you.”
He shares an interesting incident from his life. Sean wanted to be a quarterback footballer. He had been playing in high school and accordingly chose a university that could help him realize his dreams.
Once Sean stepped on the field, he didn’t do as well as he wanted to, and his coach was not pleased with his performance. He was clearly told that if he didn’t improve, he would be removed from the team.
He had to make a hard decision: either to quit football or triple his efforts and commitment. Over the next few weeks, Sean waged a war inside his head, coming face to face with his fears and self-doubts. He soon understood that he was scared of competing, being in the limelight and, perhaps, of trying and failing. That was holding him back from giving his best. In other words it was like: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
Sean decided to brace himself for his one supreme effort: to stretch his full capacity and stand his full stature. He stopped holding back and gave his best. He didn’t know if he would be the number one, but at least he would have done his very best.
Once he made up his mind and set his heart to it, he managed to change a lot. He began to show improvements, and his coach noticed it. He led his team to victory at a national football event. It didn’t happen in a day but over weeks.
This in no way means that he stopped being scared or wasn’t nervous before the final game. Everyone congratulated him for his victory. Sean knew that he hadn’t won on the football field that day. He had triumphed several months back, when he decided to look his fears in the eye. Back then, there was no applause or reward at the victory he had achieved in the privacy of his mind. He believed in Siedah Garret and Glen Ballard’s statements: “I’m starting with the man/woman in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways. And no message could have been clearer. If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change.”
Have you ever met anyone who has graduated from university before being enrolled in the kindergarten? If you have, I would like to meet that person, too!
Generally speaking, we crawl before we learn to walk. We master arithmetic before we learn algebra. We fix OURSELVES before we fix others. If you want to change your life, the point to begin at is yourself and not your parents, teachers, friends, fiancé, etc.
You have absolute control over your thoughts, actions and feelings. But you cannot control the others with the same power. This is also termed as Tazkiya-e-Nafs or self accountability, ownership and taking responsibility. Heavy stuff, huh?
A bishop once wrote the following about learning from his life:
“When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world;
As I grew older and wiser, I realized the world would not change.
And I decided to shorten my sights somewhat and change only my country. But it too seemed immovable.
As I entered my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I sought to change only my family, those closest to me, but, alas, they would have none of it.
And now here I lie on my death bed and realize (perhaps for the first time) that if only I’d changed myself first, then by example I might have influenced my family, and with their encouragement and support, I might have bettered my country, and who knows – I might have changed the world.”
You can almost taste the regret and helplessness this poor man feels. It’s fortunate for you that you are still young and eager. Allah (swt) has still given you a chance. Leap forward and embrace the change. Change is always inside out – not outside in. Remember, it begins with you!
Insha’Allah, in the upcoming issues, we will talk about what we have termed as one’s ‘personal bank account’, from where the first three habits of highly effective teenagers stem from. They are all about personal victory and manageable tips to build self-confidence. Be on the lookout!