Imagine being able to accurately predict what would happen before taking a certain action. Imagine being able to adjust course mid-decision so you could achieve a better outcome. Imagine learning from your mistakes in such a way that you not only overcome the current mistake but also achieve more success because of it. All of these scenarios are within the reach of everyone. Unfortunately, few people take the steps to actually do them.
So how exactly can someone predict the future, harness the present, and use the past as a springboard for success? The answer lies in the art of reflection. Reflection is a way of learning from your mistakes and your successes in the course of your life and in your business. It means looking at your experiences to make informed decisions about what to do when to do it, and why it should be done. It’s about stepping back, taking it all in, and looking ahead. Ultimately, reflection brings clarity, and clarity leads to sound decisions.
Think of reflection as the art of extraction. You are extracting knowledge and learning right out of your own experiences, squeezing daily events for every ounce of learning they have to offer. Studying your own experiences by reflecting on them allows you to move faster toward your goals instead of having to try, try, try again until you get it right.
To some degree, reflection happens naturally, but it is far more powerful as a business tool when you understand how to steer your reflection purposefully to make the most of your talent, experiences, and business knowledge. The Art of Practicing Reflection: To practice reflection, you simply choose an event or scenario that will impact you i.e. an upcoming diag. Then think about the event in advance, be conscious about the experience in the moment, debrief the event afterward to see what there is to learn, and prepare for an even more successful experience next time. In this manner, your learning “curve” should not be a curve at all but a continuously moving cycle of thinking-and-acting-and-thinking-and-acting-and-thinking-and-acting. That’s how we learn. Researchers call this:
- Reflection for action, or thinking before you act.
- Reflection in action, or noticing your thoughts and feelings right in the middle of the action.
Reflection on the action, or the process of looking back at your experiences to see what there is to learn so you can apply it in the future.