The Self-Reflection Sandwich
Bias to action results in drama, disappointment, and crisis apart from systematic self-reflection.
The truth about self-reflection:
I erred on the side of too little reflection most of my life. I actually spent lots of time thinking, but I didn’t reflect.
I thought about things I wanted FROM others. THEY often disappointed.
I didn’t reflect on MY leadership. I wasn’t thinking about MY attitudes and behaviors. THEY needed to change.
Self-reflection is only useful when followed by thoughtful action.
The self-reflection sandwich:
Bread represents action in the reflection sandwich. Peanut butter represents reflection. There’s much more bread than peanut butter. But without peanut butter, all you have is useless navel-gazing.
ACTION → reflection → ACTION
Reflection without action:
When things are going poorly, reflection WITHOUT action produces:
When things are going well, reflection WITHOUT action produces:
- Lack of gratitude.
Action and reflection are balanced when:
- Self-knowledge leads to authentic action.
- Pattern recognition is a key result.
- Personal attitudes and behaviors are the main focus.
- Self-knowledge produces confidence and openness.
- Personal development is more important than changing others.
- Nagging irritations are motivation, not simply frustration.
- Humility is both the reason and the result of the process.
A system of ACTION-reflection-ACTION:
Take 10 minutes at the end of the day to do a personal After Action Review (AAR).
- What did I plan to accomplish?
- What actually occurred?
- What went well and why?
- What am I learning?
- What did I do that makes me proud?
- What can be improved and how?
- What do I really want?
- What’s my greatest value?
Tip: Keep a journal.
What’s the right balance between action and reflection?
What questions would you include on a personal AAR?