Why Gyms Have Mirrors and You Should Too

It was a full class at the gym Saturday. A colleague with a barbell across her back in front of me shuffled over so I could get a clear view of myself in the mirror as we performed synchronized squats. In many training areas  – from ballet to bootcamp – there are walls of mirrors present to reflect your every move. Why?

Research indicates that those who have high intrinsic motivation (driven from within) are more apt to work harder, persist longer, and achieve more success. Motivating yourself is an important characteristic for resilience in the face of tough odds. I look in the mirror to:

  • see how I am ‘shaping up’ towards my goal – ALMOST THERE!
  • check that I am doing it right – YOU’RE CLOSE, JUST KEEP THE BACK STRAIGHT
  • watch myself successfully perform the task at hand – NAILED IT! NOW DO IT AGAIN

There is a healthy amount of focus on self that we need in order to perform at the highest level. If we are only looking to our teams, it’s hard to focus on and improve ourselves. If we only look to our leaders for guidance, we will only be followers. Every leader must look themselves in the eye and judge whether we are happy with what we are doing and take corrective action if needed.

But there is more in the mirror. At the gym I also see Scott and Laura in my peripheral vision cranking it out and that spurs me on when my strength is flagging. It helps me correct my form by seeing someone else model it. If I was surrounded by people who quit early and threw their back into every deadlift, my performance would likely suffer. But no, if they can finish 200 push-ups then I’m darn well going to give it my best shot.

Changing Your Mind

I recently spoke to an audience about the fact that someone else usually writes our obituary. It can be unsettling to consider what they might say.

The only person who can change the story they tell is you. Setting annual and daily goals for yourself are a critical part of setting yourself up for success. The people you socialize with or look to for guidance determine how quickly you will accelerate to the next level.

Take a moment and list your most significant influencers. Who are you looking to for inspiration and guidance? Are they driving you forward? when was the last time you took a selfish look at what you want to accomplish? Reserve an hour on your calendar this week to set your personal strategy.

If you don’t lead yourself with strong discipline, someone else will. Your office needs a mirror.

Thoughtfully yours,

Jeff Skipper

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Jeff Skipper
Jeff Skipper is an expert in accelerating change. Clients such as Shell, Goldman Sachs and The Salvation Army have engaged him to achieve dramatic results during strategic transformation by wrapping complex change in motivating mission. He has been quoted in Fast Company, Forbes and HP’s enterprise.nxt. Jeff holds a Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology and is a Certified Change Management Professional.