The Revolving Mirror

The Revolving Mirror

You know about The Revolving Door. It’s where people come out as fast as they go in. As a child you might have been caught in one. As a politician in a democracy today you can be trapped in a really fast spinner. Some people think the British have one at the Prime Minister’s home but they tell me they are trying to stop it. You are less likely to be aware of The Revolving Mirror, even though it is far more common than the Door. It says one thing about you at moments of success and celebration, quite another at times of failure and depression. We all read these messages however hard we try to deny them.

Is the Revolving Mirror misleading? Does it shake or exaggerate your confidence without reason? How should you deal with it? Some people advise you to ignore it. In my opinion, that is wrong. All mirrors have some purpose and any reflection of who we may be is useful to us. You are already aware that what you see in the mirror is mostly what you expect to see. It’s how life is. “We think we are who we think we are.” It can be misleading. Mentors see a vivid aspect of it when people rate themselves for creativity. The truly creative usually underestimate their creativeness whereas the less inventive often rate themselves highly. Aspiration has a lot to do with what you see in the mirror.

The mood you are in already sets the scene for optimism or pessimism about your abilities and achievements. How and what you were taught when young makes a lasting impression on you. Great sadness or tremendous joy early in life are likely to stay with you forever. You may be able to regrade them but you won’t dispel them. We don’t yet understand how our personalities really work. Nor do we know what we are responsible for and what we simply cannot control. Society imposes standards of behaviour in the interests of the majority but their applicability to any one person is still a mystery. It is the strongest argument against the death penalty.

Is a Revolving Mirror useful when planning whatever part of your life you still have to live? It certainly is. Most people seeking their plan, quickly pass over the obvious possibilities. They feel that what they already know about is rather mundane, not lively enough to ginger them up and get them excited. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your fundamental strengths are there for life. You should cultivate, nurture and use them all the time. How I wish someone had told me that – and how to do it – when I was twenty. It took me nearly forty more years to work it out. Even then it was well worth knowing.

There are seven basic questions you can ask yourself to discover what the Mirror says.

  1. Apart from parents and close family, which few people do I most admire?
  2. What is it that I admire about the most admirable of them?
  3. For each of those ‘points of admiration’, do I want to be admired for it myself?
  4. What, if anything, can I admire about a few people I heartily dislike and despise?
  5. What is it that I particularly fear in someone whose power frightens me?
  6. What are the obvious things I could do to be more admired?
  7. Am I willing to do (some of) them?

Of course, there are many more questions you can ask of The Revolving Mirror. These are the basic ones. They are all comparisons with other people but that is how we assess ourselves. And the honesty of the answers obviously determines how useful this simple analysis will be. If you’d like to send your answers to us – in total confidence, of course – we will give you a brief analysis. To avoid disappointment, and to avoid our being completely overwhelmed, we will have to limit that to the first fifteen replies. Even if you don’t send your answers to us, answering these questions is worth your while.

The Revolving Mirror* is the greatest underused source of self-appraisal.

Good morning
John Bittleston

And, as always, your views are more than welcome at

31 October 2022