Windows and Mirrors

Written by Brad Rex on May 17, 2012

Here is the third offering from our newest guest columnist, Brad Rex. Not only is Brad my beloved brother, but he’s head of The Brad Rex Group, a consultant, noted public speaker, husband for 30 years, and father of three.

I’m proud to report that Brad’s new book, “The Surpassing! Life,” was published on May 15, so is now available for purchase here.

And I’m also honored to be among the first to excerpt parts of “Surpassing!” in the coming months.

Here’s his chapter entitled, Windows and Mirrors, which shows us how to accept praise, and give it. It speaks to the Five More Minutes With zeitgeist because we should all thank those around us (especially family members) each and every day. 

Thanks for your wisdom, as always, Brad. And congrats on a job well done with your new book! 

Here is his essay entitled, Windows and Mirrors. 

But those who exalt themselves will be humbled,

and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Matthew 23:12

Conventional wisdom would tell you to “blow your own horn” to get recognized and advance. However, this negates the importance of surrounding yourself with great people who will be the true drivers of your career. Great people want to work for someone who gives them the credit, rather than keeping the honors and minimizing their contribution.

Jim Collins, in his analysis of the highest levels of leadership in “Good to Great” writes: The leaders who sit in the most powerful seats in our organization practice the window and the mirror.

They point out the window to people and factors other than themselves to give credit for success. When confronted with failures, they look in the mirror and say, “I am responsible.”

Leaders who are “windows” are secure in their leadership, and don’t need to draw attention to their performance. They happily share credit and highlight their people, as they know this credit sharing has two major benefits—it motivates the team to achieve even higher performance and it builds loyalty for the leader. These benefits far outweigh a brief time in the spotlight for the boastful alternative.

These leaders are also “mirrors” who accept responsibility for failures. They earn their pay and title by shielding their teams from corporate wrath. This instills further loyalty as people realize “success has many parents, but failure is an orphan.”

The focus of the team becomes course correction rather than blame shifting. The team also learns to take risks, knowing the leader “has their back” if the risk doesn’t succeed. Most companies say they want to be innovative and take risks, but, to do so successfully, they need leaders who accept rather than punish failure.

The best leaders extensively recognize the contributions of their people at all levels. This reinforces positive behaviors and creates strong loyalty.

Shortly after Meg Crofton was named as the President of Walt Disney World, she walked Epcot with me.

One of the frontline Cast Members approached us and I introduced her to Meg. She said, “I was at the movies the other day and thought about Brad.” I asked her if it was because of my resemblance to Brad Pitt, and she politely answered, “Not exactly.” She went on to say that a few months before, I had witnessed her giving great Guest service, thanked her and gave her a note from me with two movie ticket vouchers, in recognition of her work. “No one ever did anything like that for me before,” she said, “and I will always remember it.”

For me, it had not seemed like a big deal but, for her, taking the time to recognize her and giving her a small tangible token of appreciation was a “magical memory.” Oftentimes, just a simple “thank you,” “great job,” or “I’m proud of you” goes a long way.

Action Points

• Think about how often you “blow your own horn” and how often you give others the credit.

• When things go right, do you take the credit or give credit to the team?

• Conversely, when things go wrong, whom do you blame?

• How often do you take the time to recognize the people who work for you, verbally and with small gifts?


Stronger teams, greater loyalty, a willingness to take risks, higher performance.

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Inspiring Moment: City Target

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Memory of Mom: An Afternoon at Valley Green

Written by Victoria Pendragon on May 13, 2012

Victoria Pendragon is an artist and author who has written “Sleep Magic, Surrendering to Success.” 

Although her mother is still with us physically, the once-brilliant physician now suffers from Alzheimer’s. Here is Victoria’s tribute to a wonderfully strong woman.

I spent a couple of hours this past Sunday with my mother, a woman who was once a world famous physician and now has difficulty even comprehending simple sentences. We sat on the bench outside of the Alzheimers unit to which she has been confined, looking into a cloudless blue sky, warmed by sun, caressed by the gentlest of breezes as she told me, over and over again, of the joy she receives from just sitting and looking at nature, a joy that is far more rare now that she must be accompanied everywhere she goes.

I recalled a most rare afternoon in my early teens when she had piled five or six of us brothers and sisters into the old Rambler station wagon and driven to a small park on the outskirts of Philadelphia called Valley Green. There we ambled aimlessly along rock lined walks in heavy shade, picking up small rocks, playing in the shallow waters of the stream, dallying in nature.

My mother, even then, was a busy woman. We never saw much of her. Recently, asked to prepare her obituary for when it becomes necessary, I had the opportunity to review her curriculum vitae – an outstanding 30 pages detailing a body of work that would have been daunting to produce for a single person let alone this mother of 11 – and wondered how she’d ever had time for any of us. We’d been lucky to have that day with her…that one precious afternoon.

Now we can have all the afternoons we want but we cannot go far from the place she now recognizes as home. Now she is the mother I always wished for as a child, available, cuddly, wanting to hear my stories. As an adult, I miss her intelligence but the child in me loves her sweetness, her untroubled face, the pure love she now seems to exude as we snuggle side by side in the spring air taking in together what she called “that purple sky.”

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Memory of Mom: The Cheerleader in My Corner

Written by on May 12, 2012

Ann Morgan James and her mother riding a tandem bike when her mother was in her late 70s.

Ann Morgan James, author of  “How to Raise a Millionaire: Six Millionaire Skills You Can Teach Your Kids So They Can Imagine and Live the Life of Their Dreams,” shared this story about good times with her mother. 

Thanks, Ann!

First thing I would do is pull out the Scrabble board.

Even if we didn’t finish the game, playing a hand or two would be so very special!

Second, I would hold her every second. . .look in her eyes and see her knowing smile and unconditional love which was always there.

Third, I would tell her all my dreams and goals I am trying to accomplish.

I won’t weigh down the conversation by hashing over stuff that has happened since she was gone.

I would simply spend ever second soaking up all her positive energy and unflagging belief in me, so I could have it when she was gone again.

One of the hardest things about not having my Mom around has been keeping my chin up without my cheerleader in my corner.

Going through a divorce, reinventing myself at age 50, and dealing with life’s blows has been hard at times.

It’s those times–when I need someone to have my back and I don’t–that miss her the most.

It’s those times when I pull on the internal strength she planted in me so I can believe in myself and make my own way.

These are the gifts I am planting in my son.

Memory of Mom: Things I Want To Tell My Mother

Written by Marylin Naomi (Shepherd) Warner on May 11, 2012

Marylin Naomi (Shepherd) Warner is a writing coach, editor, and freelance writer who keeps a blog entitled,  “Things I Want To Tell My Mother,” in order to help her mother–Mary Elizabeth (Hoover) Shepherd–with her Alzheimer’s Disease.

What an inspiring idea, Marylin! Thanks for your submission to our Memory of Mom (MoM) contest. 

My mother is 93, losing her memories in bits and pieces as her dementia advances.

I made her a promise three years ago when my father died, that each month I would drive from Colorado to southeastern Kansas (1,300 miles round trip) and stay a few days with her in her assisted living facility.

During those 32 monthly visits, we have shared driving adventures to her favorite places, and taken friends who’ve been part of her life for years out for meals or coffee.

During the years, though, Mom’s memories became more and more lost in a haze.

I was with her each month, but also losing more of her each month.

So what I did was create a blog, “Things I Want To Tell My Mother,” so I record stories (with pictures) of the big and small events of Mom’s life, the simple and the significant, the poignant and the funny.

This blog will be the “five more minutes” of Mom’s connection with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and they will know the woman she once was.

When a blog post touches them or triggers a memory, they leave a comment with more details, and the ongoing living story takes hold.

Now when I visit each month and read aloud a few entries and show her pictures, Mom will smile and say, “What an amazing lady your friend must be.”

She’s right. My friend–my mother–was and still is an amazing lady.

And even though she will forget, we will remember.

Memory of Mom: Your Blue-Striped Apron

Written by Charlene Morella on May 11, 2012

Charlene Morella displays photos of her mother and the blue apron mentioned in her story, below.

This is Charlene Morella’s Mother’s Day Tribute to her Mom, who passed away May 6, 2002, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. Thanks for such a moving entry, Charlene!

Dear Mom,

I hope you know how much I love and miss you everyday.

When I think about you, I picture your beautiful white hair and smiling face.

I can still feel the touch of your soft hands when you touched mine, and how you gently patted my check and still called me “baby,” even as I approached my 60th birthday.

There has not been a moment in my life when I didn’t feel nurtured by your unconditional love and acceptance.

The vision that most often comes to mind is seeing you in our kitchen wearing the blue-striped apron that I gave you many years ago for Mother’s Day.

This room was the hub of your existence.

My most vivid memories are the image of you in your apron, taking a tissue from its pocket to dry my tears, or of you dispensing one of your early-morning hugs as I groggily joined you for breakfast before school, or of us sitting down together at the kitchen table for a mother-daughter talk.

The striped apron now hangs on the back of my laundry-room door.

It’s faded and has obtained a gentle softness from its countless washings.

I don’t have a wardrobe of aprons as you did. I don’t need them. I have your apron.

There are many things in my home that once graced your home. But none evoke such deep emotion in me as that blue-striped fabric hanging in my laundry room.

It is a symbol of all the good parts of my life growing up, and the woman that made it so.

You, my Mother, were my beloved role model and the very first love of my life.

So tonight as I go to prepare dinner, first, I’ll wear my apron in a silent tribute to you.

We will be eternally bound together by its tattered apron strings.

Memory of Mom: Trying to Be the Son You Wanted Me to Be

Written by Donald Hoofard, Sr. on May 10, 2012

Donald Hoofard, Sr., is a former Federal Fugitive Recovery Agent (bounty hunter), now turned fiction writer (author of the Dane series) and editor at the Hoofard Agency in Jasper, Texas. He started writing thanks to his mother’s final request. 

Donald told me, “My mother, on her death bed, asked me to write my life’s story, saying that I had a life few have ever known and should write about that life. I gave her my word I would do as she had asked, but put it off for almost eight years. Now I am a published author thanks to her last request.”

Congratulations, Donald!

I was not the best of sons.

She may not have been the best of mothers.

But if I had five more minutes with her, I would say this much.

“Mom, I hope that all is well now that you’re in heaven and in no more pain.

“I just wanted you to know that I have taken your last words to me to heart, and written the story of my life as you wanted me to do.

“I may not have been the son you always wanted me to be, but I am trying still. Don’t give up on me yet.

“It is you who has helped me to finally know myself and put my life on paper at last.

“I tell of my life and think of you often through the pages to their very end.

“I love you. I miss you.

“I hope that one day when my time comes, that I again am with you.”

Memory of Mom (MoM) – Video Entry by Life Coach Allana Pratt

Written by Allana Pratt on May 8, 2012

In this moving video, family and relationship expert Allana Pratt shares an actual five minutes thanking her mother, reminiscing about her, and wishing she were still here to meet Allana’s son, Gabriel.

Allana is a multi-talented, renaissance woman. For two years she hosted a #1-rated radio show called How Mama Got Her Groove Back. Now she hosts a weekly live webcast on, empowering women’s (and a few men’s) authentic sensuality.

She’s a regular TV and radio expert on CBS and FOX News, a published author with her story, “Thank God I am a Single Motherless Mom,” and has produced an internationally selling eBook/audio book set called, “How To Be And Stay Sexy~ Attracting The Love And Attention You Deserve Being Exactly Who You Are.”

Her next book is being edited. Entitled, “The Missing Handbook to Motherhood,” she says, “It’s not about getting your groove back, it’s about birthing a whole new delicious you!”

In her work as a professional speaker, Allana coaches an exclusive base of international clients in groups, privately, and in full-day intensives. Her vibrant, heartfelt message empowers women and moms to cultivate their confidence and inner radiance at the website Redefining Sexuality and men to be confident and noble at the website Get Her To Say Yes.

Memory of Mom: You Are My Hero!

Written by Lynn Banis on May 8, 2012

Lynn Banis and her mother

This Memory of Mom (MoM) comes from Lynn Banis, who works as a life coach in Illinois. She told me, “Memories of my Mom mean everything to me. I would love to have others know a little of her incredible self.”

Thank you for sending your story, Lynn!

What can I say to you that has not been said, felt, cried about, clung to? I can only say again and again how much I love you.

You gave us–Rich, Bruce and me–a safe but challenging place to live and grow.

You encouraged us to pursue education and become our own persons.

You were always there with practical wisdom to help us on our way.

Your steadfast encouragement lifted us up and kept us going when the going got rough. And it did get rough.

We always knew you were there, though.

I have to laugh about the time you recognized I was not comfortable standing my own ground with my high-school peers. You said to tell them your mom wouldn’t let you–you were happy to be the scapegoat until I could grow into my own sense of self.

I have to admit, it worked so well for me I said it to my teens, too, if they needed it!

I want you to know how proud I am to be your daughter.

You were so active, inquisitive, and courageous during your youth. Who would dive off the 25-foot tower into the Lagoon at the Chicago World’s Fair but you?

You did some amazing things when you were young, and really made a name for yourself yet you never flaunted that.

Through your actions you taught us to be humble and not to expect the world to hand us anything.

We knew we had to work, and work hard to get where we wanted to be.

You are my hero. I don’t know anything that is better than that!

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