The Power of Intentional Reflection
In last week’s blog, we reinforced the importance of leadership fundamentals that have stood the test of time and are at the core of being a high-performing leader and influencer.
In this week’s blog, we want to share an additional best practice that is foundational as it relates to building our self-awareness muscles, which helps us keep the fundamentals in check, while fostering ongoing growth and development of self and others.
I have the honor and privilege of working with high potential individuals, teams, frontline leaders right up to executive levels within various companies and industries across the globe. This past week while working privately with a new leader for one of my long-standing clients, she reminded me how powerful intentional reflection is and she attributed this positive habit to her success over the past year.
How Intentional Reflection Helps Leaders
We had a deep discussion about how when we take the time to stop, pause and reflect, it allows us to:
- Take stock of our emotions and how we are feeling, providing the opportunity to reframe/refocus our thinking and behavior
- Reflect on what is working well, what we’ve learned, what needs improvement and what we will do differently or change, moving forward
- Heightens our own level of self-awareness & EQ
- Reduces the opportunity to run on autopilot and keeps us in check
What occurred to me in that discussion is that as a leadership coach and facilitator, I often assume that others understand what we mean when we suggest developing the habit of intentional reflection, so I wanted to take the opportunity to expand on that best practice as it has served me well in my life, too.
James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, suggests that “deliberate reflection” is critical to loop back to learning to create further improvement of ourselves and others. If we do not stop to take inventory as suggested above, we run the risk of operating on autopilot which results in us viewing the world as we have always have, solving problems in the same way we have done in the past, and repeating the same old thinking and behaviors.
Benefits of Practicing Intentional Reflection
Do not get me wrong. Sometimes that serves us well, but if you want to drive innovation and creativity in the work you do and how you go about it, we need to get comfortable flexing different muscles. Practicing intentional reflection is one of many catalysts we can leverage to help drive positive change and growth in ourselves and others.
The human brain will unknowingly, or subconsciously go about solving a problem in the same way, unless we are conscious of forcing it to choose a different neural pathway or way of thinking.
Intentional reflection is a positive habit that enables us to stop and think about ourselves, those around us and our current, past, or desired future state. In summary, it is the process of making judgments about what has happened, prompts learning, and provides the ability to take a step back and think about how we might go about a situation or solve a problem.
How does internal reflection translate into leadership effectiveness and bringing out the best out in you and others?
As you navigate through your day-to-day interactions, having both formal and informal one-on-one’s, group meetings and coaching sessions with your people, encourage them to practice intentional reflection or bring it into your own coaching framework to help role model the right thinking and behaviors by asking some of the following self-reflective questions:
- How have you been "showing up" in your interactions? Are you bringing the right levels of energy and positivity that others will want to follow? Are you role modeling the right thinking and behaviors?
- What has been going well? Why? What has been the key driver of that success?
- Have there been any challenges or opportunities? If yes, how will you go about resolving those challenges or seizing those opportunities?
- What have you learned through this experience? Or have there been any learning moments for you over the past week/month? How will you apply the learning(s) moving forward?
There is an endless list of questions you can ask yourself and others. The point is, are you taking the time to stop, pause, think, and reflect, and pivot where necessary to be the best version of yourself?
We recommend you build this positive habit into your routine in a way that is going to be the most effective and doable for you. I practice it at a minimum on a weekly basis, or on a project-by-project basis and that works for me as I am delivering a service to my clients.
Really think about how you can incorporate this habit or best practice into your life, and we encourage you to reach out if you need support to figure out how to make it part of your leadership regime. You can also refer to Atomic Habits for some great advice and insights from James Clear on breaking bad habits and developing new ones that will serve you best.
Do you practice intentional reflection?
Are you operating on autopilot or are you being forward thinking and intentionally creating time and space to pause and reflect? How might you apply this best practice in your life? What are your insights and suggestions as it relates to doing this with your own team?
I’d love to continue this conversation and find out what you think, so please reach out and contact me directly via phone at 1-855-871-3374 or via email at email@example.com. I look forward to hearing from you!