On December 21, 1937, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Disney’s first full-length animated musical feature, premiered at the Carthay Theater in Los Angeles. No doubt one of my favorite Disney creations. As you know, the story’s villainess, Queen Adorée would greet her magic mirror each morning with a simple question. She would ask, “Magic Mirror on the wall! Who is the fairest of them all?” As you also know, each morning the mirror would proclaim that SHE was the most fair in the land. Pleased with the mirror’s answer she would continue with the normal routines of the day. Until that fateful morning when the mirror announced another who was fairer and more beautiful than the queen - Snow White. Well that changed everything! From that moment on Queen Adorée would abandon routine and embark on a purposeful strategy to destroy the one who challenged her vanity. Now she was focused and ready to accomplish her evil plan and eliminate her competition.

Mirrors… reflections. There are literal and figurative mirrors everywhere we turn. You will even find them in the workplace. Do you like what you see when YOU look in the mirror? If not, why? And while we’re on this topic, and just as important, how do OTHERS see you? Have you considered the possibility that how you see yourself, and the way those you work with picture you, could be entirely different? Whether you are the CEO, a director, manager, or a valuable staff person, I believe there are three foundational truths about how we perform in life. And they all have something to do with mirrors.

First, you behave the way that you see yourself. Your words and actions reflect your self image and your self-esteem. Like it or not, this is true for each of us. And yes, some days are just more of a challenge in this regard than others. That’s when real leadership steps up. Secondly, you are teaching others how to treat you. (It might take a while for this one to sink in!) You are constantly teaching others what you expect of them, what you need and what you want by the things you say and do. You also communicate your desires to your personal universe by what you don’t say and do. Often what we omit from our intentional communication comes across as a ROAR. This means that your most profound role in life is that of a teacher. You and I never get a reprieve from teaching others what we expect, tolerate and believe. Thirdly, others treat you the way that they see you. That means that people reflect back to you a picture of how you really see yourself. It comes full circle.

So what is the magic formula for seeing the “right” image in the mirror? The image we long to see? It begins by creating a new cycle. And that starts with choosing to see the right things in ourselves. Yes, that’s right, CHOOSING! When we look in the mirror we have 3 choices: 1) what we see, 2) what we hear, and 3) what we say. The process is simple - we see our reflection, we hear the voice(s) in our head, and we then respond to our inner voices with either agreement or debate. Since “mirror time” is so momentous to our performance in life, here are a few things to “choose” the next time you look into the mirror:

CHOOSE to see ONLY what you are willing to change. First of all, the mirror tends to highlight what we are looking for. Why? Human beings are programmed to pick out the flaws and imperfections. In a world of Hollywood Models, physical perfection is touted as the norm. With effortless comparison most of us fail to measure up to that standard of beauty. Therefore, we often reflect on our oddly shaped nose, our balding scalp or the extra pounds our body is acquiring in strategic places. I guess there is nothing wrong with noticing those things as long as we are committed to changing them. You read it right! Changing them! In other words, unless we are willing to explore rhinoplasty, hair replacement, stick to a diet or get to the gym, we must stop reflecting on those specific features we distain. If you keep looking at them, then change them. If you are unwilling to change them, simply stop looking at them.

This philosophy of intentional disregard for those uncomely parts of us seems to smack of self delusion. But instead it is simple way of protecting our self esteem and giving ourselves acceptance and permission to be less than perfect. It also facilitates prevention of our own personal character assassinations. Personal attacks against our disposition are hard enough to handle when they come from others. But we add insult to injury with self-assault and the pain is almost insurmountable. So, change it, or choose to stop obsessing over it!

Choose to hear ONLY what you are willing to accept. The voices in our head relentlessly vacillate between reality and perception - As if there was a difference between the two. However, reality is not always perception. But there is no doubt that perception is always reality. (That may take a while to sink in!) Therefore, what we hear between our own ears holds great potential to shape our destiny. Unfortunately, Psychologists say that almost 90% of the things we hear in our head are negative – “I can’t do that, I will embarrass myself, I will never be able to pull that off,” etc. etc. These negative messages often thwart our enthusiasm before we put forth the first effort.

Most of us admit to being poor listeners. Most specifically, selective listeners who only hear what they want to hear. (If you have teenagers you know exactly what I mean) Yet, for some reason, when it comes to the negative internal voices in our head, we perk right up and hear every solitary word and faint whisper. I recommend that we live up to our reputation as poor listeners by refusing to listen to our negative internal dialogue and only accept the messages that will encourage us to take risks, step out of our comfort zones and embrace success. In other words, only hear what you are willing to accept as your reality. Do you really want to accept the consequences of not trying? Do you really want to accept mediocrity, stagnation and personal complacency? Then stop listening intently to those voices that beckon you to quit, give up and accept failure. If you want to advance the quality of your life, work and personal relationships you have to heed ONLY the words that will help you attain those pursuits. And if you aren’t hearing the right words inside your head, then create the words that will help you succeed. Rewrite your internal dialogue.

Choose to say ONLY what you are willing to become. Self talk is not a new concept. The Bible cites its significance. Plato referenced it. William James psychologist and philosopher made it the cornerstone of his research, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he!” There is no doubt that what we say to ourselves possesses transformational power. So CHOOSE to speak highly of yourself. Begin in the morning when you look in the mirror. Make eye contact with yourself and recite (before the mirror has a chance to say anything first) a laundry list of affirmations (or your own):

· I AM beautiful!

· I AM a loving person!

· I AM a giving, generous soul!

· I AM a caring individual!

· I AM prosperous and grateful for my wealth!

· I AM deserving of love!

· I AM happy and joyful!

· I AM successful and fulfilled!

These are the attributes that we want to describe our lives, right? Then speak them, over and over again and you will begin to manifest them in your life. But, “what if I don’t walk my talk,” you ask. Trust me, you ALWAYS walk your talk. That’s the problem! You have been walking your talk all along. So, if you want a different walk, start with your talk. It’s the beginning of change and you get to CHOOSE it! Are you worthy of success? Do you deserve to be happy? Were you created to be prosperous? Say YES, and you will attract those desires like a magnet. The mirror doesn’t lie, only we do! Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all? I AM what I CHOOSE to see, to hear and to say! CHOOSE wisely and you will see your world transform!

Author's Bio: 

Chip Madera, MS, CSP began his journey in life on a 350 acre Hereford farm in Western Pennsylvania. His roots in rural America taught him to work hard, to honor God, and to show others dignity and respect. All his life he has been engaged in the study of human potential and behavioral change. Along the way he has been mastering the art of public speech and studying effective ways to enhance performance and ignite the fires of hope and untapped potential in others. He discovered his ultimate purpose after being diagnosed with cancer in 1995. That purpose is to encourage and inspire others to seek, discover and explore their ultimate potential. This self-discovery compels him to develop programs, products and services that help others explore and exploit their "greater selves."

He graduated from college in 1984 with a degree in Psychology and attained his Masters of Science degree in Human Resources and Organizational Development from Barry University in 1999.

Chip has earned his Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation, established by the National Speakers Association (NSA) and the International Federation for Professional Speakers (IFPS), as the speaking profession's international measure of professional platform skill. The CSP designation, was established in 1980, and is conferred only on those accomplished speakers who have earned it by meeting strict criteria. The letters CSP following a speaker's name indicate a speaking professional with proven experience who understands what is required and knows how to deliver client satisfaction. Chip is a professional member of the National Speakers Association (NSA), Past President of the National Speakers Association in North Florida, NSA Central Florida, the American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration (ASHHRA), the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the Central Florida Human Resources Association (CFHRA) and the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD). He invests thousands of dollars each year in association dues to stay current within his field and to continue to discover the contemporary concerns of this audiences. He is a Motivation and Performance Strategist with over 15 years experience helping leaders and teams from every type of industry enhance performance and create an environment that delights their customers. He presents over 100 motivational programs and leadership/staff training programs per year. His strategic, straight forward, and humorous approach will inspire your leadership and staff to take action and get results.

Chip gets results because of his background in management, psychology and organizational development. He served for almost 9 years as the Management Training Coordinator of the Institute for Leadership Development (ILD) at Indian River Memorial Hospital. The ILD is a comprehensive corporate university and organizational development institute designed to provide courses for managerial skill development, as well as opportunities for personal and professional growth for all hospital employees. The ILD curriculum once consisted of thirty-nine courses and three internal degree programs.

Since much of his professional career was spent in healthcare he definitely specializes in the industry. He has nearly 250 hospitals and state/national healthcare associations on his resume. However, He also speaks to hundreds of organizations within a variety of industries like the European Carton Makers Association, 3M, Southern Company, Gatorade, Verizon, United States Postal Service, Disney, WorldCom, Bell South, Westinghouse, Carvel, Sbarro, George Washington University and Cascades Boxboard in Montreal, Quebec Canada just to name a few.

Chip currently lives with his beautiful wife, Cindy and loyal Border Collie, Josie in Asheville, NC. They have six wonderful children who live away from home. Chip is presently an active volunteer with the American Cancer Society and within his local church.