Six Reflections on Reflecting
"Only when the clamor of the outside world is silenced will you be able to hear the deeper vibration. Listen carefully." ~Sarah Ban Breathnach
These past few months are a blur. I spent way too much time doing many, many thing and not enough time reflecting on what I did to see if it was really worthwhile doing it at all. I was not living my life with intention. I was not asking myself if these were the right things I needed to be doing. I did not do what I advise my clients to do. Reflect.
Let's think about our days. They are made up of meetings, making phone calls, answering phone calls, checking voicemails, reading emails, responding to emails, texting, updating all our social media sites, attending events, blah, blah, blah...
When was the last time you stopped...paused...and reflected on your progress?
I was reminded of Stephen Covey's work and his concept of Quadrant II thinking in his book First Things First. He teaches that when we find ourselves too busy to spend time planning and reflecting, that is precisely when we need to do it most. It will help us relieve some of the anxiety in our daily lives, but more importantly, it will help us to decide what is important to us and what conscious and intentional actions we must take next.
"Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action."Authors Heike Bruch and Sumantra Ghoshal, in A Bias for Action, spent 10 years observing the behaviors of managers in nearly a dozen large corporations. They concluded that "a mere 10 percent of the managers we observed spent their time in a committed, purposeful and reflective manner," while the other 90 percent of managers "squander their time in all sorts of ineffective activities," a state they labeled "Active Non-Action."
~ Peter F. Drucker
The 10 percent of the managers who took time to reflect were more successful at engaging their teams, meeting their goals and rejuvenating themselves. I also find that when leaders slow down, they are able to be reminded of their vision and value; re-engage with their intentions and plan and act from this renewal of vision and the bigger picture.
So, here are some pointers on reflection:
- Take the time to reflect upon a situation in relationship to your intentions.
- Begin your day with a 10-minute meeting with yourself in which you reflect on what is important to achieve that day and more importantly, what is important to not achieve that day.
- Remind yourself of your vision.
- Respond to all the communication noise during specific times during the day. Set the expectations.
- Disengage from your high-level activities at least 10 minutes during the day. This simple act will provide you with the mental space you need in the middle of your day.
- Close each day with a celebratory reflection and reflect on the good things you've accomplished.
How do you make the time to reflect?