Once upon a time, there was a wise man who believed that to be wiser, he has to travel between cities and meet people to learn and guide. One day he arrived in a city, and while he was walking around, he knew from the peoples’ talks that two days ago, the Governor’s son left the city after a quarrel with his father, and no one knows what happened to him. The wise man heard that the Governor’s son has a medical condition called mirror blindness where he cannot see himself in the mirror and can only see his shadow. Even though he was a handsome man, no girl agreed to marry him, and he never had friends because of his rudeness and impoliteness. However, no one has ever confronted him with this fact.
The wise man got astonished by the story, and he wished to meet that man. He left the city and walked toward the forest, and after some time he reached a river, he stopped to drink water where he saw a handsome man standing and looking at himself on the water’s surface. The wise man greeted the handsome man and then asked him, “What do you see?”
The handsome man answered: I can only see my shadow; I wish I can see myself; I have mirror blindness. The wise man recognized that this is the Governor’s, and then asked him, “What is the importance of being able to see yourself?”
“To know why people don’t like me, am I ugly?” said the shadow-man.
“You, tell me,” the wise man replied.
“I don’t think I am ugly, but I cannot see myself.”
“How do people treat ugly men in your city?” asked the wise man.
“In a very good way,” said the shadow-man.
“Then, what other factors make the people dislike you?” asked the wise man.
“I think I am a bit blunt and coarse. However, no one has ever complained about my character.”
“What prevents you from being keen and polite with people?” asked the wise man.
“I told you, no one has ever complained, but they never liked me.”
“So, which option do you prefer to go with, to continue being blunt and coarse or to be keen and polite?” asked the wise man.
“I believe I have to change and be nice to everyone.”
“Who might be able to help you?” asked the wise man.
“My father is busy, I have no brothers or friends, and the people in my city treat me like a prince regardless of my behavior, I don’t have anyone to guide me in this.”
“So, what is your next step?” asked the wise man.
“I will go to a city where no one knows me, I want people to be frank and open with me.”
“Good, I am in my way to a city that has an excellent physician who can help you with the mirror blindness. It is five and a half days away from here, do you want to go with me?” said the wise man.
“Sure, I would love to go with you.”
In silence, the two men walked side by side. They both needed to have self-reflection on the conversation that they just had, and knew that they will have plenty of time to talk as the trip will take five and a half days.
On the first day, the wise man asked the shadow-man about the environment that he lives in, how does it influence him, and how he would describe its vibes. The shadow-man talked in detail, and he was surprised how he started to perceive his environment from different perspectives, and to see it and feel it differently. At night he slept where he had for the first time the sense of comfort and peace of mind.
On the second day, the shadow-man woke up from sleep and found the wise man just finished shaving his beard, and the small mirror that he used was on the floor. The shadow-man bent down to pick up the mirror and put it in the wise man’s suitcase, while he is bending down, he looked at the mirror and saw something that he has never seen before in his entire life. He was able to see his legs in the mirror, they were not shadowed anymore. He moved the mirror up and found that he saw the rest of his body as a shadow. He did not understand what happened. However, he decided not to tell the wise man about it.
The wise man brought breakfast. They ate and then moved. On that day, the wise man asked the shadow-man about his behaviors and habits that he was demonstrating in dealing with people, and what impact do these behaviors have on them, and what they would say about him as a future governor. He was very honest in his answers, and he took his time to think and reflect as he felt that this conversation is helping him to recover from the blindness.
On the morning of the third day, the shadow-man woke up early and went directly to look for the mirror. He looked at himself, he still can see his legs. He moved it up, and for the first time in his life, he was able to see his lower part of his trunk (belly) in the mirror. He used to have belly exercise, and he knew that he has six-packs. But he was never able to see them while he is standing. He has to bend down to look at them. Now he can stand straight, look at the mirror and see them clearly. At that moment, he became overwhelmed with a sense of joy and self-confidence, and he knew that the conversation with the wise man is healing him, and he promised himself to be very transparent and sincere in his answers.
On that day, the wise man asked the shadow-man about his skills and capabilities and how these skills will help him in his future role as a Governor. How would he compare them to his father’s skills, who is known to the people as a great leader? How would he overcome this gap in the competencies and what obstacles and challenges he may face? With a broad smile and a voice full of enthusiasm, the shadow-man answered the questions in a deeper way than before, and he started to have ideas that he never thought of before. The wise man noticed the change in the voice tone and the new options. The shadow-man began to talk, but he did not comment, and they continued walking. In the night, the shadow man couldn’t sleep well, he spent most of the night reflecting on what happened in the last few days and on his new feelings and perspectives. He was very confident that he could see a new part of his body in the morning.
On the fourth day, the shadow-man woke up early full of energy even though he didn’t sleep well, and the first thing he did was to look for the mirror. He held it in his right hand, moved from down-up, and had a big smile on his face. When he found that he can see his left arm from the shoulder till the finger, he held the mirror on the other hand to see the right arm, and it was there in the mirror also. He recognized that he could see two-third of his body, which was a dream coming true, and then he started to think of what questions the wise man will ask today.
“You would need to write down your answers today”, the wise man said. He continued explaining, “Today, I want you to think deeply and then write in order what are your personal values. While we are walking, write whatever comes to your mind and then look at the list of the values and rank them. The first is the most important, and the last is the least important.” It took the shadow-man few hours of thinking and writing, and he felt satisfied with the ranking that he had on his list. He showed it to the wise man who didn’t comment and started to ask:
“How would you translate these personal values to your leadership values? What is important about your role as a future governor? What do you believe about yourself as a future leader? What might get in the way of your success?”
The questions were about leadership, and they needed logical and rational thinking; the shadow-man found his answers full of emotions and love as if they were coming from the heart, not the mind. He felt he can forgive everybody and has the courage to ask for forgiveness from them all.
It was the morning of the fifth day of the trip when the shadow-man found that he can see the upper part of his trunk and his neck. He is now confident that tomorrow is the day when this miracle will have its last piece and he will able to see his head and face. He had the same joyful feelings he used to have as a kid putting the puzzle pieces together to see the full picture. His self-puzzle is coming to an end tomorrow. He decided the first thing he will do tomorrow is to shave his beard by his hand while looking at his face in the mirror, something that he was never able to do before.
Who are you? Think about your identity, what is your mission and purpose in this life as a man and as a leader, how would you describe yourself as a leader, and what do you want to accomplish in this role? The shadow-man answered, “If these questions were asked five days ago, I wouldn’t be able to answer any. Now I can realize that life is not measured by the number of years. The moments can make a difference and change us. Now I know myself. I can articulate my mission and purpose. I can visualize my self as a leader and define what I want to accomplish.” The shadow-man started answering the questions as if he is actually a governor. He was living in the moment, and at that moment, the wise man knew that this man is not a shadow-man anymore. He went through a transformation. He didn’t comment as usual, but said, “Tomorrow, at noon, we will arrive at the city we are heading to, and as I promised, I will take you to the best physician there to treat your mirror-blindness.”
It is the final day of the trip. The wise man woke up from sleep to see the shadow-man well dressed, and his beard was shaved. So he asked, “Who helped in shaving?”
“No one, I did it myself,” said the shadow-man.
He didn’t wait for another question and started telling his story since he woke up on the second day and saw his legs in the mirror till today when he was able and for the first time in his entire life to see his face, then he said, “I am a good looking man. I have never been ugly. However, I wasn’t that good looking from inside. Today when I saw myself for the first time, I can see that I am happy about my look externally and internally. I looked at my eyes, and I promise myself to preserve the sparkle of my eyes by always tuning into my inner self and following its directions. I am not a shadow-man anymore, I am a true man.”
After a period of silence that both men needed, the wise man started and, for the first time explaining how does he see. “Your environment is your roots and your belonging, the solid base that you can stand on, that is why you were able to see your legs after the questions of environment. And remember, the deeper the roots are, the taller the tree, the stronger the base is the more stability you have. The lesson from the behavior questions is to listen to your gut feeling before any action. Mind skills are essential, but you have to have manual skills also, which explains why you were able to see your arms after skills questions. Always have heart-set values and express them to your people. Do you know why you were able to see your chest and neck when I asked about your values? Because your heart directs your values that you express it through that tube in your neck, which is called throat. Your face is your identity that people use to recognize you, your eyes are the window to your soul, your voice is the vibration that sends messages to the universe. My advice is to always look inside your heart and always listen to your inner voice. This the first advice since we started the trip,” said the true-man.
I was coaching you; as a coach, I don’t give advice. I help the coachee to decide what he/she wants in his/her life and how to achieve it. But now our journey came to an end. So I thought I may give you a piece of advice before each of us goes on our own ways.
“What a journey!!” said the true-man.
The wise man smiled and said, “It is not any journey, it is THE JOURNEY.”