I’ve been writing for the past two years about the unusual times we are living and working in as people and leaders. The uncertainty that comes with living and leading in a post- pandemic or current-pandemic world (however you might see it), creates a constant state of emotional flux, highs and lows, and uncertainty. This is the human condition, no matter if you’re leading or following, or are somewhere in between, which requires us to learn new skills that enable us to adapt, change, and thrive with an ever-present state of the unknown.
In our last few blog posts, we’ve discussed the need to work with our emotions in times of perceived crisis and unrest, and to develop greater awareness of our emotional state and our impact on others. Another critical skillset that goes together with our emotional intelligence capabilities is our ability to reflect.
The practice of reflecting is about taking periodic breaks or time away from our daily tasks and responsibilities, for careful consideration about past or current events, important decisions we need to make, potential new approaches to living our lives, or thinking about past or future conversations with others.
The value of reflection is to make conscious to us - our beliefs, narratives, behaviors, feelings, or actions, with a renewed opportunity to learn from them. If we make time for a consistent reflective practice daily, weekly, monthly, or annually, we are making an investment in our growth and development.
In times of extreme stress, taking time for reflection provides an opportunity for our brains and limbic (emotional) systems to pause amidst the chaos. Taking a pause to breath, walk, recover, and reflect affords us the opportunity to think more effectively and to make different choices or take alternate actions.
At this time of year, a look back to take stock of the year behind us can set us up for conscious changes or improvements in the quality of our lives or in our effectiveness as leaders for example.
I’m currently preparing to celebrate my father’s 99th birthday with him over the Thanksgiving holiday. My reflection questions in this moment are: How would I like to spend this time with him? What would be an important conversation to have with him while he is still here with us? What can I do for him to make this time special and memorable?
When we take time to evaluate and take stock, we learn. When we learn, we can make different choices in the current moment and in the future. We become more able to sort through the confusion, to consider multiple interpretations or perspectives. We make meaning of our past to create a more meaningful future with potential better outcomes.
The following recommendations may help you to develop a consistent practice of reflection:
I founded The Red Rock Consultancy for the specific purpose of working with C-level executives, senior leaders and their leadership teams as an integral leadership development resource.