– What I learned about self-reflection from my children –

They say, “If you’re searching for the one person who will change your life, take a look in the mirror.” Recently, I was sitting in the living room when the kids came home from school. Within a matter of seconds, I could sense something was wrong. Maybe it was “father’s intuition,” but I knew something was up; they were uncharacteristically quiet and distant. As it turns out, one of my kids said some hurtful things to the other on the way home from school.

It may seem like par for the course. Siblings fight all the time, right? But what really struck home for me was a single moment of truth that followed, a true mirror moment for me: My daughter turned to me and said, “I hate to say it, but the reason why this happened—the words and the actions involved—is because that’s how you show up sometimes.” Wow. That hit me like a ton of bricks. That really hit home. That, right there, was my #mirrormoment. And it was not an easy pill to swallow.  What she was saying is “we learn from you”.

How was I going to respond to this? How could I possibly grow from this? There are two questions I have learned to ask myself when faced with a situation like this:

  1. What did I love? The courage and love demonstrated by my daughter in the moment. Her commitment to be a truth teller and to hold me accountable is something I am as grateful for as I am proud.
  2. What did I learn? Regardless of what may come, I have to summon the requisite courage from within and stand on what I know to be true. I must always be willing to stand face to face with my truth, looking straight into that mirror on the wall.

That mirror moment with my daughter led me to literally go look in the mirror, eyeball to eyeball (there is nowhere to hide!) and ask myself, “Were you listening?” Not “did you hear?” but “were you listening?” Listening is intentional. It requires effort and focus and commitment to the person on the other end of the conversation.

But why look in the mirror? What was I hoping to gain? The truth is, the mirror is the one where place you can’t hide from the truth. The mirror is always honest. You may not always like what you see, but you can guarantee that what you’re seeing is one hundred percent accurate one hundred percent of the time. What you see is what you get. During your mirror moment, you are likely to come face to face with three inevitable truths:

  • You may not always like what you see
  • You may think more about what YOU see/think than it’s worth. Remember, it’s not about you.
  • You may realize you are blind to the reality of your own reflection.

Your #mirrormoment is about self reflection. Looking in the mirror allows you to reflect on your past in order to grow and move forward.

Your #mirrormoment is also about self encouragement. Looking in the mirror allows you to pump up your “now” so you have what you need to keep moving forward.

And lastly, your #mirrormoment is about inspiration; it’s about self motivation. Looking in the mirror allows you to envision what the future could be to propel you forward.

It’s a powerful experience. And so I leave you with this: What do you do when you know your experience constitutes as your mirror moment?

  1. Wipe the mirror clean and look. Don’t shy away. Remember, there’s no where to hide!
  2. Look often. Consistency is key. Self awareness is so valuable.
  3. Accept the truth and work your way forward.

At the end of the day, I’m happy to report that my mirror moment afforded us the opportunity to have some really intimate dialogue with each other about the value of family and love and respect and care. It may not have been easy, but nothing worth while ever is. All is well, and I truly understand the value of a mirror moment. Because remember, the mirror never lies.

Take Action: When was the last time you had a mirror moment?

Leadership on the Go…..It’s O.N.


There is an old fable from the mid-1800’s some of us learned as children—it always intrigued me. The fable is called The Emperor’s New Clothes and the moral of the story is centered around the acceptance of harsh honesty.

The story is about an emperor who loved nothing more than fine clothes. Knowing this, a couple of swindlers come to town and offered to make him the finest suit of all time, free of charge, but then only those who are worthy of their posts in his court — and those who are intelligent enough — will be able to see them.

As the clothes are being made, the emperor sends in several trustworthy and highly intelligent people to examine them. Though none of them could see any fabric or patterns, because there was nothing to see, none of them would admit they had seen nothing — none of them wanted to be deemed unworthy or unintelligent.

When the clothing is finished, the emperor’s trustworthy and highly intelligent people pretend to dress him in his fine new suit for his processional throughout the town. Also, knowing the precedence that had been set regarding those who are able to see the clothes, everyone in town commented on how beautiful the emperor’s new clothes were. It wasn’t until a child in the crowd shouted out that the emperor was naked that others joined in his obvious observance. The emperor, knowing that the crowd was right in their chants, continued with the processional and pretended to be wearing fine clothes.

For the most part — as I have grown to take on various leadership roles throughout my career — I’ve been surrounded by genuine, forthcoming people who felt comfortable enough to tell me when I wasn’t actually wearing the “suit.” It may not have always been what I wanted to hear, but it was what I needed to hear. That acceptance of harsh honesty has saved me from dozens of scenarios where I may have been at risk of falling victim to my own disbelief.

When we consent to the positions of leadership that are bestowed upon us, it is often a struggle within ourselves — and with others — to know that we do not have all of the answers. After all, we have been put in these positions due to our intellect and trustworthiness — the same reasons the emperor had appointed people to his court.

Our internal struggle is mostly with that of our ego, because as leaders, everyone expects us to lead — whether verbally or by example — motivate our teammates, command their attention, and control their focus. We, as leaders, must dig deep and challenge our teammates to think differently, act differently and above all else, perform differently.

In the moments when we’re acknowledged for our accomplishments, we are praised for those acts of leadership. So as we shoulder these responsibilities and expectations as leaders, we must also shoulder and control the burden of our inflated ego.

Thinking back to the story of the emperor, had the people surrounding him not been afraid of the results of their honesty, he may have avoided such public embarrassment. Those surrounding him would have faired better had they given him the harsh honesty up front. Regardless of setting — whether a boardroom or a town processional — we all must be open to the truth, open to the reality of being told we’re “naked.”

Sometimes, that harsh honesty will come at the expense of sensitivity, political correctness, relationships, or the egos of our leaders, but are those expenses more costly than other tradeoffs like progress and high performance? I think you’ll find the answer to be, in fact, no.

Take Action: Don’t be that “Emperor”….be open to honesty today by creating an atmosphere of truth telling.

Leadership on the GO…..It’s O.N


How to see Clearly Beyond Obvious Barriers

October 16, 2017

Years ago, I was deep in conversation at lunch with a colleague, when she paused to comment on how dirty my glasses were. I was surprised, since I hadn’t yet noticed anything out of the ordinary. But, after I cleaned them and put them back on, I realized how much those small smudges had been affecting my ability to see clearly. Although seemingly insignificant, this gentle reminder to wipe my view clean had a lasting effect on me. I realized my colleague was right – my glasses were dirty, but not just in the literal sense. I wasn’t seeing things as clearly as I could have been, and even worse, […]

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Football Helmets Hit TLC

September 7, 2017

A couple of weeks ago, my son Kalu sent me a last-minute text message inviting me to a “helmet striping” event for his Lovejoy High School football team. I had no idea what a “helmet striping” event was, but something told me I should drop everything and be there for him. Often times, we don’t know when—or where—we will make memories with our children, especially when it comes to father and son. As it turns out, this “helmet striping” event was organized by the team’s Head Coach, designed for fathers to help their sons put the stripes and school logo on their brand-new football helmets. Sounds pretty simplistic, but the […]

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Taking a “Life Stand”

August 10, 2017

There comes a time in everyone’s life when you must take a stand against the things that mean to derail you and push you further back down the line At that point it ceases to be about you and your selfish needs and wants….it is absolutely bigger than you and it is undoubtedly about your survival. It’s you or it. You know you can do nothing on your own to win this “life stand”. When you get here, dig deep within, plant your feet, square your shoulder, and stand firm. Simultaneously, believe deeply, tap into your faith, raise your praise and worship voice, and be bold. What’s next you ask? […]

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