Man in the Mirror
Dale Wimbrow’s Man in the Glass had a big impact on my life 5 years ago when I first came across it, and it still resonates with me today.
When you get what you want in your struggle for pelf,
And the world makes you king for a day,
Then go to the mirror and look at yourself,
And see what that man has to say.
For it isn’t a man’s father, mother or wife,
Whose judgement upon him must pass,
The fellow whose verdict counts most in life,
Is the man staring back from the glass.
He’s the fellow to please, never mind all the rest,
For he’s with you clear to the end,
And you’ve passed your most dangerous, difficult test,
If the man in the glass is your friend.
You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years,
And get pats on the back as you pass,
But the final reward will be heartache and tears,
If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.
The meaning behind the poem (as cliché as it may sound) surrounds self fulfillment and happiness. The powerful message behind this tells us at a very basic level that whatever we accomplish in life, we will never truly be happy or fulfilled if we are not happy with ourselves.
We came into this world on our own, and we will leave on our own, so make yourself happy, listen to your morals, and conduct yourself in a way that you can be proud of.
The Impact of Money
After someone starts to earn over around £80,000 their happiness does not increase a significant amount when their income increases. This shows that money can definitely help you to become a happier person, but it shouldn’t determine precisely what you should do and in itself is limited.
There are a lot of professions that will never reach this magic £80,000 happiness figure, but it is not a necessity to reach this figure. Depending on your values, you may not need a lot of money at all.
If you work hard at what you do, your skills will increase. When your skills increase, opportunities will open, and you will be able to progress your career. It might not happen straight away or when you want it too… but it will happen. Money can change your lifestyle, but it does have limited effect. It goes back to the age-old question, if you could be rich or happy, most people would choose happiness (most of us wish for both). A life that isn’t lived happily, is a life waste.
Everyone will come across periods in their life where they have to make a decision that changes their life. These start at a very early age, in high school when you first chose which subjects you wish to carry on studying and be examined in, which will ultimately influence your later life.
There are a million and more big life decisions to make that will ultimately change your life; which electives at Uni to choose, when to start a family, where to move, which investments to choose, whether your partner is right for you, whether you should get a pet… I could go on forever.
These life decisions are of the upmost importance, and many people forget to think rationally about is themselves and the effect it will have on them and their happiness. You need to consider the effect of every life decision and whether you are willing to sacrifice a part of yourself to that. Are you willing to go out in the freezing cold to walk the dog? are you going to be happy sitting in an office all day? Are you going to be happy with this person for the rest of your life?
Your happiness is the most important consideration. Don’t overlook the effect all of your decisions will have on your wellbeing.
Effect on Daily Life
I’m not just talking about major life choices. This extends to every small decision you make and generally how you conduct yourself going through life.
Regardless of which path you are on, you need to be happy wit yourself as a person. We all have an internal compass… whether you believe that is God, Destiny, a Primal Mind, Nature, Nurture… it is irrelevant. What matters is that we all have it and we need to listen to it.
You need to become the person you believe you are. If you say you are a charitable person, then you need to be donating to charity or giving that homeless person your spare change. If you believe you are trustworthy person, make sure you never gossip when someone tells you something confidential. If you believe you have integrity, always be honest. Listen to your moral compass otherwise you will never be happy with the type of person that you have become.
A good example of this is Lance Armstrong. He won 7 Tour De France’s and years later admitted to taking performance enhancing drugs. He confessed the reason behind disclosing his misconduct was that he could not lie to his son.
When he looked in the mirror, he didn’t see a king. He only saw the man that had cheated himself, and he couldn’t cheat his son. Now while I believe he was unfairly punished, I still have a huge amount of respect for him. He was diagnosed with cancer and continued to achieve success… And it took a lot to confess which shows strength bravery and integrity. So for that, I’m sure he too is proud of himself in a way.
Personal connection to Man in the Glass
This poem literally changed the direction of my life and forced me to consider what I wanted from life… What would make me happy.
My Rugby coach gave it to the whole team, and I’m sure many of them didn’t give it a second though but it resonated with me. I was at a time in my life where sport was everything. I was failing college because of it, and while it hurt to be getting bad grades when I knew I was capable… I didn’t care because sport was my life. I was good at athletics and rugby was like an extension of my family. It felt great.
I had this poem up on my wall, and every day I would look at it, and not really read it. One day it just clicked, and I completely changed the direction of my life. While sport was amazing and contributed significantly to the person I am today, it wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It wasn’t the path that couldn’t have make me feel fulfilled and truly happy.
Going into Law was the best decision I ever made. Hopefully one day I can look in the mirror one morning as a qualified solicitor and know I made the right decision… but there’s still a lot of work to go until then!
When the world makes you king for a day
There are almost an infinitive number of decisions and directions you can take your life. But I ask you this… when you look into the future, what is it you want for yourself? What do you want to be the greatest moments of your life? What are your long-term goals? Are they going to Make you happy? Is the sacrifice worth it?
Once you answer these questions, do everything you can to make those things come true while listening to your moral compass. So when the world make you king for a day, you can look straight back in that mirror and smile.