28 Oct

Set Aside Time to Reflect & Think – Where are We and What am I Learning at This Stage?


We live in a spectator age, an entertainment age where people like to let their minds just drift amidst the never-ending ‘limbo’ of shows and hypes and the eye-candy that our world so graciously serves us with, if we let it. People watch a movie and cry or feel so attached to things they have seen and go away many times feeling they were really involved or actually achieved something. Most times they were simply entertained and exposed to the danger of others doing their thinking for them. People go to seminars, workshops,talks,conferences and many other events without taking the time to reflect and think about the benefits or lack thereof of their time investment.
Parallel to this is the enormous pressure on people, teams and organizations to perform, to produce, to achieve, to innovate…after all, isn’t that what they are paid for? There is the risk and fear of the competition and of the future. “Do more with less” is the corporate motto that gets people promoted. The question is : “Do more of what with less of what?” There is a huge disconnection between a lot of what is actually done and the most important personal,team and organizational goals. It is a vital investment, to step back and reflect on what is being done, what has been achieved and how it resonates with the most important goals or objectives. A simple way to do this personally is to take a break from time to time to simple relax and think. Think over the past day, week, month, year, maybe even over your life or organization’s very existence. A great way to do this is taking a few minutes at the beginning or end of every day, a few hours a week or certain days in the year to reflect and rethink. At a team level, you need to identify your top 3-5 goals that must happen no matter what and plan activities into daily schedules that will act as levers to achieve the goals. This may mean taking stock of everything that’s going on and focusing time on these specific activities. The attitude of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” just won’t cut it or you may find yourself in a job or team that does not grow or make serious strides but simply keeps the machine of busyness running to justify a paycheck.
In regards to leadership experiences that business people often lack, John Maxwell talks about how most people believe that experience is the best teacher, but he disagrees. He said: “Experience is essential to successful leadership, although I don’t think experience is the best teacher. Just because you are getting older and more experienced, doesn’t mean you’re getting better. I know a lot of people who are getting older, but even if they’ve done the job for 30 years, they’re not getting any better. They’re not growing. They’re not learning.”
He also talks about the Achilles heel for a lot of leaders: They get a little momentum going, and they celebrate but don’t reflect. He thinks leaders should do more reflection and less celebration. To reflect on his experiences, John asks, “What did I learn? What am I learning at this stage? And what am I going to change?”
He even has a reflection chair! “If you have a place to think, you’ll start thinking,”
We can take a cue from the African wild for instance: Lions are mainly nocturnal, so they sleep for about 20 hours every day. You can find them lying under shady bushes most of the time.They live for about 12-16 years in the wild. That means a lion is only awake for about 3 years and are active during 4 hours of the day. However, those 4 hours are highly productive during which time the lion secures its prey after building reserves of energy. Consider for instance, the Pareto principle or 80:20 rule which says : 20% of what we do daily really accounts for 80% of our productivity,20% of my time produces 80% of my high-quality output,20% of my team produces 80% of the output. 20% of my stakeholders require 80% of the attention and so on. To be able to identify the vital 20%, we need time to think and reflect, not being bombarded with busyness. It’s interesting to note that many times, the real enemy of realizing the most important goals are overwhelming daily tasks, which make up the 80% of our time but need to be done today! Set aside Time to reflect & think : “Where are We and What am I Learning at This Stage?”
“Where am I or where is my team? What did I learn? What am I learning at this stage? And what am I going to change?”. Happy Monday!!!