This year, I’ve been wrapping up the manuscript for a new book that’ll be coming out next year. I’m in the editing process currently as we move toward launch, so forgive my lack of posts the last few weeks.
In this heavy writing, editing, and re-writing season, I’ve been thinking a lot about the value of reflection. Wednesday will be December 1 – December! Hard to believe, isn’t it? And at the end of the year, it’s important to me to take time to reflect on the year and look ahead to the opportunities and possibilities of the new year.
Reflection isn’t just a once a year activity though. If you are a person of faith like I am, then practicing daily spiritual disciplines are critical to leading yourself well. Reflecting on the previous day, week, or season can provide significant benefits. Remember: experience doesn’t make you better. Evaluated experience makes you better. And that means reflection.
Each week, I have a weekly review, where I look back at the previous week, process and evaluate, and look ahead to the week to come. As I reflect on the previous week (or year), I ask questions like:
- What would a great leader have done in this situation?
- What can I learn from this for the next time I face something similar?
- What could it have meant if I had chosen something different in this situation? Think counterfactually — play out the scenario of alternate responses and decisions.
- If I didn’t lead in this with excellence, what book can I read or leader can I talk to about how to get better for the next time?
- Reflect on your life, leadership, character, faith, and who you are becoming. Am I getting better, or just busier?
- What are the implications of my decision here for the legacy I want to leave, for the story I want to tell one day about this?
- What’s the biggest learning from the week I just had?
- If I were going to teach a group of young leaders using this month’s experience, what lessons would I share?
Reflection can help you see things that you would have otherwise missed. You’ll catch good actions and thoughts that you want to repeat; you’ll catch actions and thoughts that need to be learned from and jettisoned, never to return. By reflecting on each day, you will learn and grow in wisdom, not just in age. Wisdom doesn’t come automatically with age; it comes with reflection and evaluation.
What does your weekly review process look like? What questions would you add to the list above?