Mirror, Mirror - Who is the Smartest and Strongest of All?

3 min read
9 September 2021

Knowing our strengths and limitations allows us to foster trust and team spirit. When we are ignorant about these personal traits, we can engage in behaviours that push people away. Leadership is about influencing others, and if we do not understand what attracts people and what repels them, we cannot effectively interact with or lead them. 

In the story of Snow White, the evil queen spends a great deal of her time asking her mirror who is the most beautiful of all. The mirror usually replies that the queen is the fairest lady of all--until one day it doesn’t. While the queen didn’t appreciate the rude awakening, the rest of us can probably learn something from moments like this.

Are You The Smartest And Strongest Of All?

As humans, we each have some unique sense of self or our inner being. We don’t always share that self with others. However, others seem to wallow in their sense of self, and they have convinced themselves that they are the fairest, smartest, toughest, greatest (insert some adjective) person of all. These people tend to only focus on their perceived strengths, which may or may not be real, and gloss over their limitations. 

How do we approach people like this, especially if they wield a great deal of power or influence in our work sphere? Something like the i4 Neuroleader Assessment can gently (but firmly) open people’s eyes so they can see how others see them. Some of us are continually hearing affirmations from our ‘mirror, mirror’, and we may be completely oblivious to how we come across to those around us. 

Hubris is interesting because you get people who are often very clever, very powerful, have achieved great things, and then something goes wrong - they just don't know when to stop.
Margaret MacMillan

Instead Of Denying Them, Use Your Limitations To Grow

Why does it seem like so many politicians and people with power are narcissists? Narcissists generally covet two things--money and power. Just like the evil queen who needed to be the most beautiful of all, these kinds of people can never be wealthy or powerful enough. A recent article explored how greedy people seek their ‘fix’ at the expense of others1, which means they are not serving those they represent, but only themselves. 

Even if you can recognise your limitations and weaknesses, are you willing to do anything to improve? It’s one thing to smile and nod at criticism while secretly thinking in your mind that someone’s comments are ridiculous. You’ll promptly forget them and purposefully expend zero effort to change. Attitudes like this form weak leaders who rely on propaganda and fluff, while agile leaders roll up their sleeves and form a plan.

Our strengths and limitations are like two sides of a coin, we can easily flip it over to either side, but both sides exist at the same time. Instead of blowing off the words from others (especially if they are critical), what if we could train our brains to listen a little? To have a proper awareness of what people think around us? 

It’s Time To Put The Mirror Away

Looking deep into ourselves can be an uncomfortable journey for some. We may have developed toxic coping mechanisms when we deal with things like criticism. It takes a great deal of effort to see yourself in the mirror when your brain thinks this way. We must realise that narcissistic leaders only care about their own goals, and we need to stop voting for these people. 

Our strengths are the firm foundation that keeps our brain agile and ready to react. Our limitations can be strengths, as these are areas where we know we can improve. We can make changes, but only if we want to. When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Hopefully, you see an agile, compassionate person who recognises opportunities for improvement.


  1. Mussel P, Hewig J. A neural perspective on when and why trait greed comes at the expense of others. Sci Rep 2019; 9: 10985.
Topics: Awareness Agility

Subscribe by email

Get Email Notifications

No Comments Yet

Let us know what you think