Self-Reflection: The Secret to 23% Improvement in 10 Days
Vampires grease back their hair because they have no reflection. Life sucks and you’re a mess if you never look in the mirror.
Socrates was right, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Self-reflection makes life worth living.
Self-reflection makes growth possible and contribution meaningful.
5 reasons leaders don’t practice self-reflection:
- The term self-reflection is for hippies and dope smokers.
- Who has time?
- Why bother? Just go do something.
- I wouldn’t know how if I wanted to.
- My imaginary self is better than my real self. Don’t burst my bubble.
The purpose and value of self-reflection:
A mirror bursts the bubble of imagination. Healthy self-reflection reveals self-distortion, self-delusion, self-inflation, or self-condemnation.
Fantasy is great as an escape, but a lousy lifestyle. You must know who you are in order to make meaningful contribution.
Fantasy might succeed, but lack of authenticity sucks satisfaction from life.
5 purposes of self-reflection:
#1. Pattern recognition.
For most of my life I’ve been “too busy” to waste time on self-reflection. The result – unrecognized self-defeating patterns.
#2. Increased self-awareness.
Meaningful contribution requires that you know the power of talent and the defeat of weakness.
#3. Correction and direction.
Ships never reach their destination apart from adapting as they go.
#4. Improved performance.
Customer service agents who spent 15 minutes at the end of the day reflecting about lessons learned performed 23% better after 10 days than those who did not reflect. (Di Stefano, Gino, et al.)
- What is satisfying about your current station in life? Dissatisfying?
- What do your satisfactions and dissatisfactions say about you? Your values? Priorities?
- Reflect on current satisfactions. What attitudes, decisions, and behaviors expand your life?
- Reflect on current dissatisfactions. How long have these dissatisfactions been with you? What attitudes, decisions, and behaviors sabotage your life?
How might leaders practice self-reflection?
What concerns you about practicing self-reflection?
Why you Should Make Time for Self-Reflection (Even if You Hate Doing It) (HBR)
3 Simple Ways to Practice Self-Reflection (USC)
Great post Dan.
I keep a gratitude journal and I start with a reflection on the previous day – usually about two paragraphs. I the write two to three things that I am greatful for.
The reflection piece is sometimes difficult and the questions you provided are a great template. I am going to shar them with the team. I’ve got about half of them are experimenting with gratitude journaling, maybe this will bring the others on board.
Have an amazing day.
Thanks Joe. There’s evidence that a daily gratitude practice pays huge dividends. I find that gratitude come to mind more frequently during the day if we simply choose to notice the “good.”
BTW, journaling is a great way to practice self-reflection. I find that writing is thinking. Another option is a conversation with a trusted friend.
Here is a great little article about the psychological benefits of practicing gratitude.
Thanks for extending the conversation!
Do you have a favorite book or two that has helped you in this self-reflection process?
Thanks Travis. I haven’t read a book exclusively on how to practice self-reflection. To be honest, when I read about self-reflection I get a little tired of some of the mumbo jumbo I read.
Personally, I frequently go to the ancient wisdom in the Hebrew Scriptures. Proverbs is a great source of material to help self-reflection. (I’m not Jewish, but use the term Hebrew Scriptures out of respect for their origin.)
You don’t have to be Jewish or Christian to use Wisdom literature as a point of reflection.
BTW…I think I’ll write more about this topic tomorrow.
Evaluated experience will jump over experience every day and every time. When we learn something new or different we need to evaluate, I won’t change because of what I learned; sometimes evaluation is a painful process but so is not changing. Dan, great post
Nicely put, Scott. Evaluation – a powerful aspect to self-reflection – gives direction and energy to change. Thanks for the inspiration and insight.
Reflect on current satisfactions. What attitudes, decisions, and behaviors serve you well? Rather then reflect on dissatisfactions I focus on the satisfactions. This helps me focus and provides direction in work and life overall. I continuously reboot and readjust the attitudes, decisions and behaviors as appropriate.
Thanks Roger. Your comment indicates that satisfactions have the power to pull us forward. That makes sense to me. I also wonder if satisfactions could also cause inappropriate contentment?
I base the above on the idea that discontent is, in part, motivation for change.
I also wonder if satisfactions could also cause inappropriate contentment? Only if you are not aware of what satisfaction is for yourself and how it works for you.
Thanks again Roger. It seems we need a good measure of contentment to flourish in life. There’s another word for lots of discontent it’s misery. (Even as I type this, I still feel up in the air on this topic.)
But, the wisdom of following positive energy makes sense. Dissatisfaction seems like a cruel taskmaster. Satisfaction seems like energy.
The book Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster has helped me.
Thanks for the recommendation, Duane.
On this one, I need a better handle on the process, or I may come away patting myself on the back for all the wrong reasons…
…A trusted voice seems like an essential component here.
Thanks Ken. On that, you and I agree wholeheartedly. One of the surprises of the journey has been the realization that we cannot know ourselves by ourselves. Sometimes, perhaps more often than we might think, others see us better than we see ourselves.
In addition, speaking our self-reflections to/with an audience is a powerful source of insight and correction.
so many great one-liners! particularly the fantasy ones and ships adapting as they go
Thanks for your kind words, Lyndie. I wish you well.
Maybe self reflection has to do with self acceptance
Thanks Victoria. I appreciate you extending the conversation. Three key benefit of self-reflection are coming to see, appreciate, and leverage our wiring.
This is an excellent self – coaching exercise! Thank you!!!
Thanks Mara. Yes, and the questions may be useful for coaches.