One of the greatest secrets to success is the habit of reflection. Most people reflect at some stage. But it’s no good to reflect back on your life when you are in your rocking chair on the stoep of an old age home. Nor is an annual reflection on the year gone by on New Year’s Eve worthwhile. Successful people reflect at least once a day.
You need to reflect on your day, your health, your relationships, your business. On what you are doing right, what isn’t working… on every aspect of your life. This habit of reflection is what will enable you to continuously improve.
In our business and executive coaching programmes, I encourage my clients to reflect on a daily basis. Here’s why:
Learning from mistakes
If we don’t think deeply and reflect on what goes wrong, we are likely to make the same mistakes again. Reflection helps us figure out what went wrong, how we can prevent this from happening again and how we can grow from it. Mistakes are a valuable learning tool, but only if you follow up with them through reflection.
When you reflect on things you are doing or things that are happening in the world or in your business, you start to develop opinions, solutions and ideas. Reflecting on success, creates a breeding ground for your next goal. When you reflect on challenges, you find ways to overcome them. Ideas come from the process of reflecting, which is why it needs to be a daily habit. Reflecting makes your next move more intentional.
Without reflection, most people tend to dwell on their failures and challenges. They forget about all the things they’ve done right and the good decisions they’ve made in their business. Reflection ensures that you also focus on your successes, celebrate the small wins and express gratitude for your blessings. This positivity leads to a happier you.
Often we are so busy being busy and caught up in the moment, that a mistake or a high-pressure project overwhelms us. Reflection allows us to take a step backwards and look at the bigger picture to realise that it will pass, and it’s not the end of the world. When we are able to look at the bigger picture, we realise that a bad day is probably just a bad 10 minutes. This perspective is what will help you get through the tough times.
Reflection is a vehicle for the four key pillars of your emotional quotient (EQ): self awareness; awareness of others; managing yourself; and managing others. When you reflect, you develop a deeper understanding of what makes you tick and what ticks you off. It gives you the time to put yourself in others’ shoes and develop empathy. Leaders need a high EQ. Unlike IQ, EQ can be improved. Reflection is one way to increase your EQ.
If reflection isn’t something you do often, or something that comes naturally to you, you need to make a conscious decision to create a habit of reflecting.
- Start a journal – even if you just write one sentence each day.
- Diarise the time – focus on reflecting at the same time every day – whether it’s in the shower, or over a quiet whisky before you go to bed.
- Exercise – kill two birds with one stone. Exercise it the perfect time to get lost in your thoughts and reflect on what’s happening in the business or in your life.
- Talk about it – If you share your reflections with your partner, your coach, your friend, your colleagues, you are holding yourself accountable to those people.
Your future benefits from the reflection of the past. Sometimes before we can move forward, we need to look in the review mirror. If you need a structure to help you create a habit of reflection, coaching is the perfect facilitator. Give me a call.
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards”