I used to think that self-reflection was new age, hippy dippy nonsense that I didn’t have time for. Then my mind was opened. When I worked in healthcare there was always protected time for colleagues for reflection. My question was always was it worth it, as I didn’t see the point. A very patient colleague sat me down and explained supervision and self-reflection to me.
The self-reflection element (I will cover supervision in another blog) gives you time to sit and look back on a set period of time and analyse your actions and performance. Additionally, it allows you to then push this forward, what can you take away and learn from that experience. The key part for me is the how do I learn from the past to inform my future.
This is particularly valuable to me, as I hold myself to very high standards. Often, I will question my performance and value. The yardstick I use is to look at deliverables, outcomes, something tangible. In reality the benefit that I deliver is often in progressive thinking, questioning, mentoring, directing strategy, helping people see a direction of travel, understand a challenge, or simply to support and develop them.
So using my measures I will say I have delivered nothing, others may disagree. As an example, recently, I spent a day in a creative session with a digital agency. We did a lot of ‘soft’ sessions around vision, direction, sketching, outcomes. We looked at what we liked and didn’t. Brainstormed some ideas and tested their feasibility, checked them against the brief.
My feedback to my boss after the session was that I thought I had been disruptive and unhelpful. The agency feedback to my bosses boss was that I had added a lot of value to the session and my ideas were taken forward.
My instinctive gut feel was that I had wasted time and hindered process. On reflection, with feedback and a more open minded view, I could then start to see what I had brought to the session and how I moved the discussions on.
I am lucky enough that I am able to walk to work. Commuting on foot gives me time to relax and reflect on my day and performance as I head home. Time to replay situations in my head, think through problems and look for solutions and more importantly, plan next steps.
Additionally I will allow myself time, after meetings, calls or interactions with people to reflect on what happened, what was said and any actions that I have taken. Previously I would pull together content, presentations, talks at the last minute and run with them. My default is homework on the back of the bus/deadline busting work.
So I am slowly training myself to start and complete things earlier to allow me time to reflect on it. Review with a clear mind and focus on am I achieving my brief and objectives. Are my messages clear, what can I do to make it better.
The other reason I use self-reflection is to look at the future, where my journey takes me next and how I utilise my current situation, skills and contacts to get me there. Recently I changed roles with my current employer. This proved that I have the ability to transfer my knowledge and skills, make a difference and deliver in a short timeframe.
Over the next few weeks I will be focussing my reflection time on answering some questions.
Am I a good hire with a wide range of transferable skills?
What do I want next?
Do I want to take a chance on a large challenge?
Should I look at a change of sector?
I will invest time in thinking over these questions, check them against my knowledge, skills and experience. Then I can transfer my focus to achieving.
My ask of you is to consider the practice of self-reflection and how you can use it to your benefit. Can you see it being a useful tool in your kit?