How Self-Reflection Might Limit Potential

Self-reflection done poorly distorts reality and limits potential.

Real self-reflection exceeds navel gazing like rib eye steak exceeds veggie burgers.

I’ve had the plant-based Impossible Burger at Burger King. Someone told me it’s pet food for humans, but it’s tasty. It’s so meat-like some vegetarians get queasy eating it.

Perhaps our grandchildren will print steak with a 3D printer, but for now, give me a real rib eye charred on a blazing grill.

Self-fascination leaves us head-down in a narrow hole chewing on artificial realities.

Self-reflection and others:

Self-reflection done in isolation is like a meat eater chewing an Impossible Burger. It’s satisfying until you learn it’s an imposter.

The effect of isolated self-reflection is self-confident distortion.

Since my mid-twenties, people have said, “You make me think.” It surprised me. I’ve learned that making people think isn’t something I try to do. It’s who I am. It’s my contribution.

The real meat of self-reflection includes others. Self-reflection that excludes others propagates the perversion that we are the center of the universe.

We understand ourselves in contribution, not isolation.

Self-reflection and feelings:

If self-reflection always makes you feel good, you’re doing it wrong. Perhaps the goal of meditation is inner peace. But real self-reflection is painful sometimes.

When the goal of self-reflection is affirmation and comfort, self-centeredness is the motivation.

Activities that promote self-importance limit potential. (Confidence yes. Self-importance no.)

4 reflection questions:

  1. What contribution reoccurs in your interactions?
  2. How do you leave people when you walk away?
  3. How are people better after interacting with you? Worse?
  4. What do people – who know you – repeatedly say about you? What if they’re right?

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the bitterest.” Confucius

How might leaders elevate the practice of self-reflection above self-centered naval gazing?

How might the practice of self-reflection multiply contribution?

Bonus material:

The Right Way to be Introspective (Yes, There’s a Wrong Way) (Ideas.TED)