Reflecting. Pondering, Considering. Thinking.
Do you schedule time for reflection into your day timer? I beg you; please start to do that now!
Time to think is rare for the average leader
Leaders rarely find time to think clearly. The most impactful leaders, however, know reflection time is crucial. Rarely have time to consider options or mull over what just happened leaves you simply chasing fires. On the other hand, giving yourself time to think allows you to move from randomly reacting to everything to being more responsive.
Self-reflection can be random
Have you ever had your mind wanders and you were are amazed to see brilliant ideas you stumbled upon? That is the act of random reflection. You’ll notice you do this when you are in the shower, cooking or driving. Some of the best ideas come during these accidental thinking times. To take reflection to the next notch, you need to set intentionally aside time for focused self-reflection. This means you create a habit of scheduling in "thinking time."
Make time to think
Most of us rarely spend much time in intentional self-reflection. While we know it might be beneficial, we don’t believe we have time. I am here to tell you that you need to place it a priority and make it a mandatory daily activity, regardless of what everyone else thinks you should be doing.
Do self-reflection intentionally
This focused time might be a chance to reflect on a particular event, a conversation or a challenging situation you are currently trying to sort out. It might be planning time, reconnecting to your vision or your values. This time, might also be your opportunity to widen the gap between what just happened and how you reacted. In being more intentional during self-reflection, you can give your mind time to work its way around whatever you need to sort out. In this way, you are increasing your emotional intelligence.
What to do in your scheduled reflection time
Here’s an example of how I used self-reflection to sort out my dilemma. I was at a meeting the other day, and someone said something offensive to another member of the team. The comment was intended as a joke. However, it was grossly inappropriate. As one of the leaders in this group, I felt it was my responsibility to address it.
My not so great attempt at handling it
I jokingly scolded her after the meeting. Although I tried to be funny, I meant what I was saying. Rather than owning my message, I hoped to make it easy for her, but honestly, I was using humor to make it easy to me! It didn’t work. As she left the meeting, my guess is she felt like I had just scolded her. Rather than inspired to change her behavior, I bet she felt defensive.
My random self-reflection
On my drive home, I contemplated what had just happened. I knew I had not got the effect I had desired. I realized, my ineffectiveness in getting my point across was in part because I didn’t even consider the impact I wanted before I let words fly out of my mouth.
My first lesson from self-reflection:
As I reflected, I realized what had compelled me to speak up in the first place. I wanted this person to have compassion for the individual they made the joke about. That was about as far as I got on my way home. The next morning, however, I took few minutes to include this challenge in my journaling. In doing so, I came up with the language I would want to use for this kind of incident in the future. It didn't change anything, but gave me the ability to be more responsive rather than reactive in the future
Third lesson from self-reflection
Self-reflection makes me a better leader
Had I not taken the time to reflect, to ponder and to plan, I would likely be in the same situation again within a few weeks. I would still find that I am still not sure how to deal with it. Therefore, I would once again be just reacting and letting words fall out of my mouth. Pondering widened the gap giving me increased emotional intelligence. The reflection gave me words to use in upcoming situations not only with this individual, but in many potential similar situations in the future.
Let self-reflection grow your leadership
Self-reflection allows us to be in alignment with our purpose and values. It can have us become more intentional in getting the impact we desire and going in the direction we want to go. We have to, however, make the time to do it. Add self-reflection to the top of your To Do list today!
What lessons have you learned when you've taken "time to think"? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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Women leaders often hit a point where they find themselves in over their heads and wondering if they have what it takes to lead.