Since we were young, we were taught that experience is the best teacher. After studying John C. Maxwell, the world’s leading GURU on leadership, I’ve learned that experience is not the best teacher. Evaluated experience is the best teacher. It wasn’t until I started evaluating my experiences and the day as a whole that I realized how true Dr. Maxwell’s philosophy is. As a matter of fact, in the Marine Corps, after every training exercise and deployment campaign it was mandatory to create a “Lessons Learned” file for that exercise. Reflecting back on it today, it’s easy for me to say that one of the reasons the Marines are so successful at war fighting is because they reflect on each mission and learn valuable, lifesaving lessons from them. The same holds true for sales, business, friendships, and relationships. If you’re someone who is looking to move to the next level in your career, business, and life, reflection could be the tool to expedite your process!
Peter Drucker said “Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.” If you’re being intentional about personal growth, reflection is a necessary habit to develop. Coming from a sales leadership background, I would suggest that reflecting after every professional engagement will incredibly improve your sales skills and your leadership ability. Reflection, if applied, is like having a remote control for your life. It allows you to:
- Rewind – Take a look back at a certain experience or the day and revisit it in your mind’s eye.
- Pause – Stop and really think about what happened, how you handled it, what you liked and what you could improve next time.
- Play – Replay the scenario and actually see other’s point of view. Most of the time you’ll catch something during a replay that you may have missed originally.
- Record – Take notes on the experience, extract valuable lessons which can only be learned through intentional thinking and write them down for future references.
- Forward – Place yourself in future scenarios and visualize how you can be better equipped to handle them moving forward.
As you’re reading this you’re probably thinking of some people who can really use reflection in their lives! That’s exactly what I did when I first heard of the concept a few years ago and thought to myself how great this is for others, but I don’t really need it. I couldn’t have been further from the truth. As a matter of fact, I needed it more than anyone and I can confidently say that all of us could greatly benefit from its rewards. Reflection allows me to take a bird’s eye view on my experiences and make necessary corrections daily to ensure that I’m constantly improving and preventing myself from making the same mistakes twice. Without reflection, it would be hard for me to realize that I even made a mistake!
Recently, I was speaking with a young woman who was very sad about her life in general. She seemed to think that she’s just destined to have bad things happen to her. She recently found out that her car needed repairs but she did not have any money to fix it. Even if she did have the money, she couldn’t leave the car in the shop for the day because that would cause her to miss work and she couldn’t afford to do that. Since her car is barely drivable she’s not able to go to her second job which is causing her to lose money and because of this she’s in even worse position to get her car fixed! I asked her “what are you going to do?” Her response was “there is nothing I can do, bad things just always happen to me.”
It’s safe to say that from a life perspective this young woman is not where she wants to be and is heading in the direction which she really doesn’t want to head in. She, however, does not see it that way. She believes that there is nothing she can do and because of this type of thought process, she will have very minimum say in where she’s going to end up and how. She’s just going to let life happen to her instead of taking control and deciding what she wants out of life.
Many of us are facing similar challenges and we don’t even realize it. It’s like driving down the road and never stopping to think about whether we’re going the right way or if we’re even on the road we need to be on. How long do you drive down the wrong road until you decide to turn around, stop, or make an adjustment? Sometimes we’re just happy to be moving, even if it’s in the wrong direction!
I’ve seen reflection work wonders in my life. It was recommended to me by my personal life coach, Julie Reisler (http://juliereisler.com/), and has proven to be the most beneficial exercise I do on a daily basis. It was very uncomfortable for me to implement this new discipline in my life. It meant that I would have to sacrifice my time from another area of my life and it seemed impossible for me to be able to do that considering how busy my schedule already was.
The way I got started and would recommend for you, if you’re interested in your development, is to do the following:
- Identify a place for reflection. It could be a rocking chair by the window or a sofa in the basement. The important part is to try to keep it consistent.
- Schedule 15-30 minutes at the end of each day and treat it as you would treat an important meeting. Do not deviate from your schedule!
- Ask yourself thought provoking questions. Some great questions to ask are:
- What went great today?
- What area of my life do I need to grow in the most?
- What do I really want?
- What did I not see today?
- How can I be better tomorrow?
- What would I have done differently? Why?
It’s important to have a pen and notepad with you to answer these questions at the end of your day. If you’re like me, you’ll notice that your mind will begin to generate incredible ideas to help you advance your life in the direction you truly want to go!
If this article resonated with you, perhaps my Daily Agenda Guide will also be helpful as you’re embarking on your journey for personal growth. You can download it here http://thegoalguide.com/your-daily-agenda/ and please sign up to receive more information on personal development and events in your area!
Live your purpose,
The Goal Guide