There are times when as a leader you need to have the ability to take a step back from all that is going on reflect. Reflection can often be the difference between good leaders and great leaders. What is so important about reflection is that it can tell you just as much about the future as it can the past. To use reflection as a leadership tool can help separate you from all the other leaders.
I can remember a time when I was going 100 mph in my career. I was trying to accomplish as much as possible as quickly as possible. I wanted to impress everyone as new executive. I felt that I only had a small amount of time to change the world. I would have slowed down but I felt I didn’t have the time too. I just kept on going. I would have my direct boss say, “you are moving too fast” and I would say “thank you.” I know crazy but I felt it was what others expected of me and I felt it was what I expected of myself. As I reflect now on that experience, it is actually difficult to remember what I did accomplish. I know I accomplished a number of things but because I was moving so fast I cant even think of the successes I had. I never reflected on what I was doing. Because of this, I missed opportunities to build important internal relationships with other leaders. I lost the opportunity to see the indirect impact of things I was doing. Had I taken the time to reflect on what I was doing and why I was doing it, there is no doubt in my mind I would have felt more successful and most likely accomplished even more.
As a leader or one who aspires to be a leader, don’t allow yourself to get caught up with trying to accomplish too much too fast. Build into your leadership plan time for reflection, allow yourself to take a look at what are doing, the successes you have accomplished, the mistakes you have made and use that to help shape your future. The most important reflection you will ever see is the one you see when you look into the mirror. You need to ask yourself:
- What do you see in the reflection?
- Do you see a leader who is so caught up in titles, salary and status that you are not actively leading but rather idly leading?
- Do you see a leader who is tired, worn out and feels like they can’t keep up with all the demands?
- Do you see a leader who is achieving success and balance in life?
- Do you see a leader who is still passionate or one who has lost all desire to give it their all?
Asking these questions to the person looking back at you in the mirror can help keep you grounded as well as honest. Don’t underestimate the importance of reflection. Keep your focus on the future while using the past as a tool to help you get better. This world needs more leaders who reflect on the past to create a better future.