Is Lack of Reflection Holding You Back?

Of all the leadership skills my clients choose to work on, the most under-valued is reflection. It’s not that anyone is incapable of reflection, it’s more about prioritizing it and carving out time to make it happen. Let’s face it, it feels so much more productive to, well, produce something.

You crank out emails, respond to Slack messages, send texts, interview people, conduct staff meetings, solve problems, brainstorm ideas, create and present plans, onboard new employees, and that’s all before noon!  Lots of checked boxes and endorphins are pumping.

Even if you believe in reflection, deciding when, where and how to do so – not to mention on what exactly – can stop you in your tracks.  To that end, I invite you to consider the following to build your reflection muscle:

When: While the timing is highly individualistic, most people find it easiest to carve out reflection time at the beginning or end of the day (or both), and at the beginning or end of the week (or both).

I have clients, however, who prefer a break from all the doing during the day or middle of the week. Truth be told, it doesn’t matter when, as much as scheduling the time in your calendar and protecting it, as if your success depends on it.Where: Move away from your desk! If you’re in the office, find an unoccupied space, a  conference room on another floor, or better yet, get outside. If you’re working away from the office, find a location where you won’t be interrupted, or again, head outdoors for some fresh air.How: Set your alarm for 20-30 minutes and respond to the following questions. Be curious about what pops into your head as you answer questions. Don’t rush; if you finish early, cycle back and ponder the questions. Challenge yourself to go more deeply and broadly until the timer goes off. If you’re deep in the zone when it does, take a few more minutes to capture your thoughts.

Next, make a quick list of which leadership strategies and skills you would like to “Start,” “Stop,” and “Continue” moving forward. If you’re feeling particularly courageous, share these with your team or a trusted colleague who can help hold you accountable.

Taking that step back is often illuminating, even if a primary take-away is to stay the course. 

Here’s to leading confidently…and ever-curiously!

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