Some Thoughts on Reflection16th Aug 2018
After shooting this video, I spent plenty more down-time on that T-Bar. I got to thinking about the challenge of choosing to slow down more often. I’ve known for a while about the importance of slowing down and reflecting, and I consider myself to be someone who builds in regular down-time. But my life still feels more way more hurried than I’d like. I’m beginning to notice how easy it is to be tempted into action all the time. To say ‘yes’ to a full-on life. And how challenging it is to slow down, unhook and not try to do it all (or at least try to do it all at once).
And I think most people in leadership roles feel the same.
Interestingly, in my 20-plus years of supporting leaders to grow and develop, I’ve noticed a compelling pattern. The people who seem to grow the fastest are the ones who deliberately take regular time out to reflect.
Renowned podcaster and author Tim Ferriss has interviewed over 300 highly successful people from all walks of life. He’s found that over 80% of them have some sort of daily practice of slowing down and clearing their mind.
There’s something in this I reckon.
To me, reflection means simply briefly suspending your focus on getting stuff done, and slowing down for a minute or two to think and reflect. It’s a pretty simple concept, but often hard to put into practice.
If you’re interested in accelerating your development, learning faster, or simply feeling less hurried, here are some ideas I’m kicking around. I’d love to start a conversation with you on what it takes to be less hurried, so consider these conversation starters:
1 Commit to reflection as an everyday practice. As William Murray once said “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness…the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too…all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.” Step one: commit.
2. Make it as easy as possible. As a client of mine says “you can reflect while making toast.” You don’t need to make it a big deal. Find ways to take 5 minutes out each day to check in with yourself in the midst of your activities. I have a notebook by my bed that I write in each evening before I go to bed. It’s always there, available and ready.
3. Have a repeatable process. Here’s a simple one that I try to use, based on three core questions: What? So What? Now What? For example:
- What am I thinking about right now?
- What do I feel about that?
- So what do I want to happen next?
- Now what might I do about that (if anything)?
I like these questions because they get me a) noticing where my head’s at b) choosing how I want to be. It helps me get off autopilot and become more deliberate.
4. Write it down. There’s a bunch of research that suggests that writing stuff down promotes wellbeing. It helps with learning. And it helps with making sense of complex situations. So having a way of writing stuff down makes sense. As a bonus, writing it in pen, as opposed to typing into a computer, also has added benefits. The process slows you down. It slows your own thinking down, and that’s what this is all about.
What do you do to slow down? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Like this post? You’re only getting half the story. Sign up to my ‘Thinking From The Edge’ newsletter, delivered monthly to your inbox.
Are you a Change Maker? Learn more about my Change Makers programme, including next intake dates.