If we aren't reflecting, are we truly leading?
That's a question I was thinking about this morning at the gym. So often, when we're asked how we're doing, we reply with something like, "Great. Just really busy."
While being busy is great (it's often a clear sign that the position we're in is challenging for us; we need challenge if we're going to lead and learn effectively), being so busy that we never have the time to reflect on our actions is the antithesis of great.
I've written previously of the power of reflection. But, in reality, it isn't a separate frame from that of leading. Both the "doing" of leading and the "thinking of what we've "done" are two faces of the same coin. We can't be great leaders if we aren't spending a great amount of time reflecting.
Building time for reflection into our days isn't always easy. Many of us are just as busy once we leave our professions as we are when we arrive. But, blocking out time doesn't have to be an impossibility. Here are some thoughts for feasible reflection times (they may not get you to 50 percent, but it's a start):
- The commute to and from work; turn off that radio and put that phone down
- A pre-morning thinking session; arrive to work thirty minutes early as we're often at our thinking best before we're taxed with other mind-challenging items
- During lunch; eating helps energize us, and also is a natural mind-clearer
- After lunch; take a thirty minute recess and walk either through your building or take a walk "in the wilderness" outside
- Do an evening check-in; have a conversation with yourself (either internally, or face-to-face with a tool like Google Hangouts)
None of these will work for everyone, but it is likely that at least one will work for everyone. The point is, if we take the time to think about our work today, we'll be more effective leaders tomorrow.
And who wouldn't want that?