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Break Your Mirrors

Normally I would connect this directive with tempting fate, risking seven years of bad luck, but this is the title of the final chapter in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s recent book, “Be Useful – Seven Tools for Life.” Arnie starts this chapter with, “I have a rule. You can call me Schnitzel, you can call me Termie, you can call me Arnie, you can call me Schwartzie, but don’t ever call me a self-made man.”

This could be considered an odd statement from the textbook example of success and achievement. Arnie is famous for an unwavering commitment to working hard, staying focused, setting goals and making the absolute most of every opportunity and moment. Arnie admits he was the one spending all the hours lifting weights, but he also argues that no one, including him, does anything entirely on their own. There were many people who helped Arnie, taught him, and paved the way for him. In response to all that he has received, Arnie feels a profound responsibility to give back.

I like how Arnie reflects on his success, “One thing you learn when you’ve lived long enough and worked hard enough to see your wildest dreams come true, is that we’re all connected. We’re all in this thing called life together. It’s not a zero-sum game. It’s one that can have multiple winners… When we make giving back a part of life, when we break our mirrors so we can see all the people behind the glass who could use our help, that’s when we all benefit.”

This responsibility to give back is another version of Pay it Forward. Sometimes we cannot pay others back, but thankfulness and awareness for what we have, can always be expressed in how we live and how we give. If people have coached us, who can we mentor? If we have been supported, how might we volunteer or donate to institutions or programs? If we have been encouraged, what gestures of support can we provide to others? Living the answers to these questions could change your world.

By: Capt Michael McGee