As the year draws to a close, it’s a great idea to reflect on both your successes and your challenges and to learn equally from each. There’ll be things you did really well and other things that you may have completely destroyed, but take it easy on yourself, you are only human after all.
Reflection is acknowledged as a highly valuable element of the learning process. We always talk about learning from our mistakes, and we should, but we should also capitalise on our triumphs. We need to accept responsibility for both our mistakes and our successes.
But be aware –
“There is a natural tendency to attribute all our successes to ourselves and all our failures to forces beyond our control.” Washington Post
It’s time for reflection, can you see what I mean?
We need to reflect on our self – what we do and why we do it. It’s a time to step back and consider yourself from a safe distance.
“The first rule for survival is to get off the dance floor and onto the balcony so you can see what is really happening around you.” Harvard Business School
This is the time when the year turns over for us and starts afresh. It’s a great time to tidy up, do your washing and put on some clean clothes. That said, the act of reflecting should be an ongoing iterative process that you use to facilitate personal and professional growth all year round.
Some tips for reflection to reflect on
Here are some steps to facilitate reflective thinking about challenges you have experienced
- Imagine yourself as an entirely different person who is considering the situation that you’re reflecting on. Someone who has no emotional attachment through risk of failure or investment in the situation and who can consider it completely objectively. Critique your own actions from this safe distance. What would that person over there (that’s you, in case I’ve lost you), have done differently and why would they have done it differently.
- Think of different ways you could explain an event. Take the outcome you have and give it a different story. This will help you appreciate how many situations can be viewed from an entirely different perspective and as a result, how others may have formed an entirely different view to you.
- Appreciate that your view changes with time as does your hair color and the spring in your step. Think about how this may mean the view you have now, may be very different in the not too distant future as you view it in the rear vision mirror.
- Have the courage to discuss a situation with others. Not just someone who’ll pat you on the back and completely agree with you, but someone who you respect, who will challenge you. For me, I use my coach and others in my support network of course.
Some questions to help you reflect effectively
Keep a list of questions in a note book that you can read and ask yourself for answers in the privacy and security of your own mind, including:
- What made me react the way I did?
- How was I feeling (what emotions) and what was I thinking about at the time and what influence might this have had on my thoughts and my behaviour?
- What do I think the other person was thinking and feeling at the time, and what impact might that have had on their behaviour?
- Is there anything else I could have done to impact the outcome?
- If this happened again tomorrow, how would I approach it. If you are sure you would approach it differently, then the difference in approaches is the learning, whether you acknowledge you could have done things better or not.
Why is reflective thinking so important. Mmm, let me reflect on that a moment
Some of us spend a lot of time reflecting – potentially too much time. There is a difference between reflecting and beating yourself to a pulp, the latter being less than productive.
- Reflective thinking is a great way to develop an inquisitive attitude where you challenge first impressions and single stories and seek to explore and consider all possible scenarios and outcomes.
- Reflection challenges and erodes unconscious bias.
- It is an excellent way to identify opportunities for change, for personal and professional development.
- It is an excellent way to equip yourself for responding to new opportunities
- And finally it is a great way to identify and take forward learnings into new opportunities.
My final reflection on reflection
I feel sure that if you look back over the year that was, you will find many things to reflect on. There will be a few you wish you could erase and there will be many that you will remember fondly. The real skill is being able to analyse each without turning yourself inside out, to learn from each of them and to lock in the rich and positive learnings that come from both your challenges and your triumphs.
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Many thanks to my nephew James Westmore for his wonderful artwork as always