“We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.” ― John Dewey
Last week we spent two days with some upcoming leaders who are committed to developing and growing themselves as authentic leaders.
We deliberately built-in time for reflection after their individual and team activities.
As per the quote above, this reflective process enabled them to cull out the nuggets and move forward more confidently.
The quote above may also resonate with you. You are well aware that the reflective process enables us to have more of a “helicopter or balcony” view on matters.
However, like many other clients, you are perhaps musing, “Where do I find the time to do this?”
After all, your daily schedule of back to back appointments and meetings, managing teams, customers, and other stakeholders, along with all the unscheduled things that pop up, leaves time for little else.
Counter-intuitive as it may seem, making a small amount of time for reflection now, can save a whole lot of time later.
Alternatively, perhaps you are asking, “How do I do this?”
The practice of reflection may also not be an easy process if you have a more extroverted personality type.
As one of my coaches said, “When I do create some quiet time for reflection, I find myself very quickly moving on to find someone to talk to!”
Short and sweet will do!
Well – here’s the good news.
Reflection does not need to be an arduous process. It can be as short as three to five minutes.
Taking a few mindful minutes after a meeting or exchange helps provide clarity and focus with the overwhelm.
You can do this by getting yourself into a quiet, non-distracted space with a journal and pen, iPad, laptop, or even a café napkin.
If you are always on the fly, just allowing your mind and body to go inwards can lead to exciting insights glossed over otherwise.
Some managers I worked with have consciously created a 5-minute check-in at the beginning or end of the day before leaving the office to reflect on matters.
Then there is the question of how. The powerful aid here is to ask yourself some “what,” “why,” and “how” questions to prompt deeper insights.
For example, after a meeting or an interaction with a stakeholder, you could ask clarifying questions like:
- What just happened here?
- How do I feel about it?
- What worked, what didn’t?
- What was my role/contribution here?
- How would I like things to be different next time?
- How would I like to be different next time?
- What is the next small step that I need to take?
Engaging in the process of reflection with a trusted other also enables rich, insightful and powerful learning conversations to occur.
Again those participating in our leadership development programme did just this.
They were able to be mirrors for each other, and they gained hugely from doing so.
For some, repetitive physical activity such as swimming or running is what channels them into this reflective space engendered by the different mental, emotional, and spiritual rhythm.
This “gap” from one’s routine enables insights to bubble up.
Whichever way you do it, making time for reflection for to gain a helpful and new perspective and then taking action from this has to be an essential focusing practice for any effective leader.
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