“Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.” In this episode, I reflect on how I’ve shaped my leadership style through the lenses of Mirrors, Windows, and Doors. Each perspective builds on one another, and my hope is that my story will inspire you to blaze your own path.
The concept of “mirrors and windows” was initially introduced by Emily Style for the National SEED Project, emphasizing the importance of representation and identity in education. Building upon this idea, multicultural education scholar Rudine Sims Bishop expanded the concept by adding “sliding glass doors” to highlight how books can provide a gateway for children to see themselves in different experiences. Drawing inspiration from these principles, I believe this philosophy can also be applied to leadership. Let’s explore how mirrors, windows, and sliding doors can shape our approach to leadership.
A mirror represents a story that reflects our own culture and helps us build our identity. For instance, as the son of an enlisted individual, I witnessed firsthand the hard work and dedication my father put into his role in the Air Force, eventually becoming a Chief. This upbringing instilled in me a strong work ethic and a sense of admiration for those who serve. Additionally, as a male minority growing up in a mixed-race and mixed-economic environment, I faced the challenge of fitting in. These experiences have shaped my perspective and taught me the value of inclusivity and understanding in leadership. Furthermore, as a child of the 80s/90s, I was influenced by early technology, hip hop, comics, anime, and pop culture. These cultural touchstones have given me a unique lens through which I view the world, allowing me to connect with diverse individuals and bridge gaps in understanding.
On the other hand, a window serves as a resource that offers us a view into someone else’s experience. As a male officer, I have led with a combination of humor, inspiration, and a firm hand when necessary. By seeking out the expertise of those around me and being open to different perspectives, I have been able to broaden my understanding and enhance my leadership skills. Moreover, as a male cyberspace operations officer, I actively sought opportunities to excel by learning from those who are experts in the field. Collaborating with visionary leaders in solving complex issues has been instrumental in my growth as a leader within the Air Force.
Finally, a sliding door represents the invitation for the reader to enter the story and become a part of the world. As an author, I share my focused thoughts on serving in the best job in the Air Force, aiming to inspire others in their own journeys. As a CrossFit Coach at CrossFit Hampton Roads, I leverage my expertise to motivate athletes to push themselves and achieve goals they once thought were out of reach. Additionally, as a podcaster, I provide unfiltered thoughts on a variety of leadership subjects, encouraging my community to rise to their full potential.
Mirrors, windows, and sliding doors surround us constantly, and it is our choice of how we utilize them. The greatest leaders understand the power of each element and harness them to their maximum potential. By embracing mirrors to shape our identity, looking through windows to gain empathy and understanding, and opening sliding doors to invite others into our narratives, we can better ourselves and those around us simultaneously.
Incorporating the philosophy of mirrors, windows, and sliding doors into our leadership approach allows us to foster inclusivity, expand our perspectives, and create an environment where everyone’s unique experiences and identities are valued. By embracing these concepts, we can become more effective and empathetic leaders, making a positive impact on our teams and organizations.