Leadership: Windows and Mirrors

“A great leader looks into the mirror during times of failure and looks out of the window during times of success.”

This quote was taken from my high-school history teacher, Mr. Stafford. I am not sure if he is the original owner of this phrase but he was the first and only person that I’ve heard it from. It immediately struck a cord with me and I often come back to it.

What this quote is saying is that a leader will take ownership of their decisions and put the blame upon themselves when failure arises. They do not look to call out others to hold responsible if situations do not go according to plan. Great leaders realize that ultimately, they have control over the outcome. If they fall short of their desired condition, they look to themselves (in the mirror) to see what they could have done differently.

Conversely, great leaders will look at and give credit to those surrounding them (out of the window) during times of success. When a team accomplishes a goal, leaders deflect personal praise and instead, give it to others. They are quick to realize that they are much less useful without a great team around them.

If you are a competitive athlete, you have the ultimate say as to how you perform. Your training decisions directly affect the outcome of your performance. You could have the greatest coach in the world outline a program for you but it is up to you to put in the work. Coaches cannot make you stronger. That responsibility lies on your shoulders. Coaches are simply there to show you how you can achieve a goal.

If you are not where you want to be as an athlete, you should start by looking in the mirror to examine how much effort you are truly putting into the process. Chances are, the people surrounding you are not the reasons for your shortcomings. You are the one that can do better.

When things go great and you PR at your meet and hit all of your target numbers, celebrate with your team. The thing I love about strength sports is that there is most likely a team of people that influence you and help lead and guide you into success. Other athletes that you train with who are always hyped and eager to lift help make great training environments to be in. Friends that help load up barbells and change out equipment make training easier and more efficient. And finally, the coaches who are there to support you in any way possible.

When you experience success as an athlete, you can lead others by setting an example. Look out of your proverbial window and thank them for their contributions. That type of leadership can catch on with your gym and make everyone’s training that much better. Soon you’ll run out of wall space for windows and have to install a garage door instead.


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