New Pictures – Reflections on Priorities

New Pictures – Reflections on PrioritiesIn the most recent version of the Disney classic, Snow White, Charlize Theron gazes into her narcissistic mirror – only to discover that someone younger and fairer has appeared in the kingdom.

You know the story – disturbed that she may be displaced from the ‘most beautiful’ mirror – (a premise that could only occur in a fairy tale), she sets out on a murderous mission to destroy this up-and-comer.  She has no intention of being awarded runner-up status.

This movie teaches an important truth – when mirrors speak, it pays to listen.  Obviously, something of that message has taken.   How else do you explain our obsessive need to consult its reflections?

Checking appearances is what we do.   Some days, mirror-time is good.   Others we would do well to crawl under the covers and wait for a better day.

When I do mirror-time, what I see is pleasantly delusional.  For example, I see much more hair than would you.  It’s an age benefit.  With eyesight less sharp, I orient to outline rather than detail. I let imagination fill in the rest.    While others see blemishes, I see marks of character.

As youth, we spent lots of time in front of the mirror.  The slightest imperfection turned into adolescent catastrophe.  And so the renovation began: concealing and revealing; brushing and gelling, painting and lining – not to mention a thousand other processes and products so we can enter the world looking ‘spectacular’, well – at least, normal.

We spend the time because we believe those reflections capture who we are, or at least, who we desire to be (with allowances for that Rembrandt makeover we just went through).

Those reflections become our reference points as we navigate our day.

Every so often those images are immortalized in hard copy.  Do you remember school pictures – 8 by 10 glossies and those “distribute to the world”, 2 by 2’s?

I sure do.  Blonde, blue eyed and handsome – so my mom said.  But despite her assurances, I didn’t share her perspective.  These pictures proved it.  All I saw was a landscape of freckles – which I detested.

While adult perspective may regard these inconsequential, my young eyes did not.  Those images held me prisoner.  They restricted the doors I walked through and the activities I pursued.  I wanted no part of center stage.

Years later, I resurrected the Kodak prints that had escaped my shredder.  What I saw surprised me.  Those freckles weren’t nearly as dominant as I believed them to be, contrary to the images I held in my mind

Here’s the truth – we see what we are prepared to see.   And what we see, we reflect.

Those mental images shape our moods, impact our confidence, and influence our future.  Those images shape our priorities.

So how do we escape these historic images that hold us back from becoming the person we wish to be?

Let me suggest three ways:

  •  A New Picture Begins With a Compelling and Vivid Vision
  •  A New Picture is Framed in a Conquered Past
  •  A New Picture is Made Gallery Ready with Consistent Accountability


I   A New Picture Begins With a Compelling and Vivid Vision

We will not see and claim new horizons until we are willing to see past detrimental mirror images on which we, and others, have been gazing.

The salesperson who sees himself as a $10,000 a month achiever subconsciously fixes that amount as his SET point.   He or she may do better or worse in a given month but the yearly average is established at that performance level.  The SET point orients to that expectation.  His vision has established his performance.

A person who succeeds in weight loss is often discouraged when months later, losses have been regained.  The body, accustomed to its SET point, physically cries out against this newly trimmed identity, “What are you doing to me?” as it tries to regain its former girth.

But she has tried to image differently.  Her fridge is covered with celebrity pictures of her desired lean body.  The problem is those images aren’t hers.  She has hitchhiked onto someone else’s vision rather than embracing her own.  Success has a far greater chance of being achieved if she were able to vision all the activities and adventures in which her “new improved me” will be engaged.

The truth is – if you want to improve performance, you need a vivid and compelling vision that ignites the emotions and commits the will.

Studies of the mind/body connection reveal some interesting things.  One study conducted by Tor Wager administered mild electric shock to subjects who were then provided an analgesic cream to address the pain.  Some were given a placebo.  And what did they find?  Well, those pronouncements, ‘Mind over matter’ were right!  Brain scans revealed that the body’s ‘pain sensors’ responded to the placebo just as if it were the real thing.  The body responded according to what it expected, and the result?   No pain!

The mind’s expectations determined the body’s response.

So – what do you do with that?

Well, if you wish to be a great speaker – what does that look like?  What are you doing?  What are you seeing?  How are listeners responding?

Vision with the end in mind.

If you wish to be a great dad – what images are alive within you as if that is happening?  Right here, right now! How vivid are your expectations?

The pictures we hold will define and breathe life into our priorities.

II   A New Picture is Framed in a Conquered Past

If you are like most of us, you have gone down this road of priority setting before only to find that a short distance in, the route becomes unmarked and unfinished.  Soon you are in the ditch, wheels up.

So here’s the truth – the road to accomplishment doesn’t run straight without detours and switchbacks.  There are failures and potholes.  Realistic priorities understand this and embrace failure and setback.

So you have failed and come up short.  Who cares?  What did those experiences teach you?  What opportunities can be seized from those setbacks?

It’s time to wipe away the fog from your mirrors so you can see yourself as you have been created to be and go after big purposes that bring value to others.  It’s time to rip down old pictures and choose new reflections.  It’s time to put a grave marker on the past.

The truth is you can’t move forward with the past on your back.

Frederick Broan Harris described our need to focus on a big purpose future.   Commenting on the death of 300 whales that pursued sardines and found themselves marooned, he observed, “The small fish lured the sea giants to their death. They came to their violent demise by chasing small ends, by prostituting vast powers for insignificant goals.”

So, let go of the past and pursue the things you value.

Let go of the past and pursue the things to which you will commit your passion.

Value, purpose, and faith will be the things that will significantly shape your future.

III   A New Picture is Made Gallery Ready with Consistent Accountability

Blame kills.  Whether I am blaming myself or blaming others, blame takes me nowhere.  As long as I blame others, I give them control over my life.  What they did, what they said defines my perspective and my actions.  The same can be said for that long list of excuses you carry to explain why life hasn’t unfolded as you believe you deserved.

Perhaps unfortunate, even calamitous, things have happened to you.  Perhaps people have done things to impact your past but does it make sense to allow those actions to dictate your future?  Take control by taking accountability for who you are becoming and where you are going.  No one else will get you there but you.  Become accountable to yourself and to a few who will commit to hold you true to your purpose.  With no excuses and no blaming.

James Allen said it well, “You will become as small as your controlling desire, as great as your dominant aspiration.”

He was right.

So – to what are you committed?  And to whom?  What is your vision that defines your priorities?

Remember, you see what you are prepared to see.

So tomorrow when you look in the mirror, what reflection will you see?

Copyright © 2012 All Rights Reserved.

I welcome your feedback as well as your ‘vision and priority stories’, their impact, and the lessons you took from these.  Submissions are made with the understanding that they may be freely and without obligation be used in any future publications by Rob Inrig.

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