Do you practice reflection? Is it even on your radar?
It wasn’t on mine until about a year ago. I was just barreling ahead chasing one to-do after the next without taking time to pause, look back at what and how I’d been working so I could reassess what I was doing well and where I needed improvement. How do we know where to go if we aren’t sure what all we’ve already done? I’ve learned that the moments in which we pause gives time for our growth to catch up with us. It’s a good thing.
When I hear the word “reflection,” my mind immediately goes to a mirror. I think about when I walk by a mirror and see myself, I inevitably change some part of my appearance. Maybe I poof my hair, adjust my top, or even stand taller, but I undoubtedly improve something. This is what reflection allows you to do: take an honest assessment, therefore allowing you to get a better view of how you’re operating. I remember that there are some things you need to see in myself, for myself. Think about this: have you ever been running errands or in a meeting only to jump back into your car to see there’s a piece of pepper in your teeth that no one told you about, even though others certainly saw it? I know I’m not alone here. It’s hard for people to have awkward conversations including a critique without feeling as if they’re being harsh or judgey. This is why we need to stop to reflect, check in on progress and analyze how we’re doing. No pepper teeth for me, thanks.
John Maxwell gives some great questions to ask yourself as you’re reflecting in his book The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. These have helped me to see what needs attention and where I can focus in.
1. What is my biggest asset? Is it something in your personality? Your drive? Your attitude? When are you working in your strength zone?
2. What is your biggest liability? What’s holding you back? Being honest with this and bringing it to light can help you begin to recognize this and work to improve.
3. What is your most worthwhile emotion? I love this question and have learned big things in examining my emotions. Emotions rooted in reality are a great blessing! Continually letting emotions go into reaction mode? Not a blessing.
4. What is your least worthwhile emotion? Get real here. I love when one of my dear friends will receive some constructive criticism and respond with “oh, that hurts so good.”
5. What is my best habit? We know that success is the sum of many small efforts. What are some of your habits that are contributing to your success?
6. What is most fulfilling to me? What drives you? What makes you feel successful? Is it a certain income? A time when a family member noticed your hard work? Is it feeling seen, connected and understood by those with whom you are in relationships? Is it helping others? What truly fulfills you? Recognizing these motivators can be really helpful in planning ahead, as well as celebrating victories along the way.
Maxwell goes on to suggest that you add this practice to your calendar, perhaps a few minutes at the end of each day, an hour a week, up to a few days at the end of the year. I love even pausing around mid-day to see where I am with my agenda and what I need to get done that day. It’s great personal accountability for me.
Lastly, if you put this into practice, take down some notes somewhere that you can go back and review later. It’s super helpful to keep track and you may begin to recognize trends and patterns of what was going on when you were in seasons of success and in seasons of growth. If this feels awkward at first, that’s okay. Anything new can be kind of uncomfortable. Stay with it, you’re going to like what you see.
“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From quiet reflection will come even more effective action.”