It’s getting quiet now. Winter has arrived. The holidays are wrapping up. It’s year-end and time to start anew. January 1 is, of course, just another day but because of that change in the calendar, we have a wonderful opportunity to start over. We can take a look back and look forward. Most of us have recently spent days relaxing over the holidays, which is a good time to reflect and consider some of the big questions we may sweep away during the year. How am I spending the many hours at work? Where am I going? Why? How do I feel about it? Am I leading others in the way I want to?
Reflection is a critical leadership skill because it enables us to better create the future. The ability to be mindful, aware and purposeful is becoming an essential skill in our busy world. When we look back with that awareness, we can be intentional about our path forward. We can look into our crystal ball, create our vision and define the future we want.
Here are 2 reasons why reflection is essential to effective leadership:
- Research done at USC revealed that looking back first provides the ability to project further into the future. The research is called the “Janus Effect” for the mythological creature that could look in two directions at once. As the professor said, “We make sense of our world retrospectively and all understanding originates in reflection and looking backward.”
- No matter your role, you must know your own mind and be secure in it. You must have the ability to think for yourself and know where you’re headed. If not, why are you there? Although all great leaders rely on trusted advisors to provide diversity of thought and insights, it’s not a substitute for the character of the individual.
Here are 2 ways to develop your ability to reflect:
- Schedule fewer meetings each day. Set aside 30 minutes to be mindful about what has worked in the day, what was achieved and where you missed opportunities.
- Keep a journal. Remember when we had those little diaries? That was a perfect way to reflect. You can do it on your phone or by keeping a small note pad to actually handwrite. Whatever works for you.
At this time next year, you can look back to reflect on a mindful year full of wise choices. Leadership is about creating the future. Look back first so you can better see it.