I’ve been thinking about mirrors lately.
I, and many of my clients, have been taking a look in the mirror. It’s a healthy–and painful–thing to do.
I’ve also been reading Peter Senge‘s “The Fifth Discipline,” a classic text my father often referenced in his work, from my teens to the present.
Senge argues that the truly effective organization is the one that has the ability to learn. He describes five disciplines necessary for the “learning organization.” Here’s one:
The discipline of working with mental models starts with turning the mirror inward; learning to unearth our internal pictures of the world, to bring them to the surface and hold them rigorously to scrutiny.
A year before Senge published those words, Elvis Costello unleashed Spike! on the world. (There must have been something in the water having to do with mirrors.) I’ve always assumed he was writing about his then-wife, an alcoholic (and former member of the Pogues, featured before in Horn Sections Make Rock Better).
He was telling her she’d have to face the mirror that was “going to tell you things that I still love you too much to say.” I wonder what Elvis would say about the love that results in speaking truth–“faithful are the wounds of a friend,” as the ancient Jewish proverb puts it. Or maybe this song was that speaking of truth.
Anyway. I think the studio version employed Allen Toussaint and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band–we’ve featured Elvis and the band before too. Here he shares the stage with the legendary Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
Organizations need to test their basic assumptions. People need to do the same. We all have work to do.
I hope you look in the mirror today.