As last year ended and this one began, I put myself in a process of reflection.
Reflection is one of the great leadership habits.
The challenge with reflection is there is always such noise going on in our heads that often the higher wisdom we seek can’t be heard because there are other voices that shout so loudly.
The wisdom that resides and resonates in our hearts and bellies often isn’t heard over the voices in our heads that question “Did I do that right?”, “What will the boss/customer/team think?” “Why can’t they motivate themselves for a change?”
Worry and fear can cloud our ability to reflect when the voices say things like “How am I going to get all this done?” “Why are these customers so demanding?”or “Are they kidding ???”
That’s why it’s so important for leaders to create a positive ritual around their reflective time and stick to it so it becomes an ingrained habit that happens more often than not.
Tal Ben Shahar calls this practice “Time In”. It’s time away from the busy-ness and the runaway voices in the mind. Steven Covey would have called it “Quadrant Two” time. No matter what you call it, your time spent as a leader looking within to plan, reflect and check in with your heart and gut is where you will get your inspiration to expand and access a place of ‘higher’ guidance.
I like to start my reflective times by quietly, and with a degree of reverence, taking a deep and grateful breath, making sure to exhale fully and completely before inhaling again. This act alone sends a signal to my body that I am ready to engage my whole brain. I like to take my right hand and put it on my heart as I bring to my mind something for which I am grateful. (Today it’s the pleasant cool weather and the bright sunshine.)
I breathe into that thought while focusing on the area around my heart, knowing that I am sending the chemicals of calm through my bloodstream and accessing both sides of my brain. Then I set to my reflection.
At my executive meetings I offer this thought – as a practice, every Friday before the end of your workday take the time to sit in quiet and stillness and reflect on your week. What went well and why? Where have you created value for your employees and customers? What have you completed? What have you deleted? How have you built your Positivity Ratio?
Of course, your natural tendency might be to look at your calendar to see what you didn’t get done (and of course that is an important part of completing your week) but the purpose of this Positive Leadership ritual is to retrain your brain to access wisdom and the increased creativity that comes from the positive emotions you create.
Positive emotions create a Broaden and Build response in the brain and cause you to get smarter, more creative and see things from an expanded perspective. What a great place to be as you reflect on your week, your month or year.
So, this year I suggest creating a Ritual of Reflection that you practice at the end of every week. I suggest you use a Positive Leadership journal, either a bound book, or a digital document, to record your reflections. I also suggest you spread the idea of reflection by asking others “What went well and why?” and “How have you created value this week?” When your team knows you are doing this each week and that you will be asking them about their reflections – they will be more focused on creating value during the week. That’s a win win for all.
And of course – as this is still the “new year” if you haven’t done your Intentions yet, you might want to take a look at mine here. I offer several questions as a guideline for your reflection process.
Let make this the happiest year ever!