Ask yourself this
Column by JAY PERRY
In the last article we spoke of being grateful and balancing that gratitude with the desire to improve. Inside of looking at what we have, in being grateful, is an element of reflection. The act of reflecting is absolutely paramount for leaders for without it, progress cannot be made or recognized. It is not the easiest of things to do though.
One of the things pushed in our advanced leadership course is the complexity to reflection. There are four major components that leaders must work on mastering as part of their personal practice of reflection.
When one reflects there is an implicit requirement of objectivity. This means being neutral and not applying opinion through rationalization, justification or excuses. There is an element of judgement, too: when we look back on what has been accomplished, we need to compare results to stated goals.
In that comparison we judge whether we like the results or not, staying away from excuses or rationalizations. This is a good thing—judging the satisfaction we have with outcomes.
Another component and one deeply tied to avoiding rationalization and excuses is honesty. It is an integral part of the reflective process. When we do the session in the course on this, I love to ask the question, “Who do we lie to the most?” Everyone gets that answer right—it’s ourselves!
It is easy to fool ourselves into thinking we have done either too well or too poorly. We must be honest, maintain objectivity and judge in neutral terms while we reflect. This allows us to open the door of potential.
This door of potential is when we can answer the question, “What would I do differently?” This challenging question while reflecting allows us to spot opportunity that we can employ in moving forward. Even if we are completely and honestly satisfied with the results, we now have opportunity to reinforce the behaviours that allowed us to accomplish what we wanted.
The final component of reflection is perspective. We all have one, as it is an opinion—just like bellybuttons, everyone has one. Are we doing enough to widen our perspectives? Are we seeking out the opinions of others that can help us expand our viewpoint? Are we researching and keeping up on trends and techniques that others can offer? Or are we closed off due to only valuing our own perspective?
We need to be open-minded for the practice to be effective. There are so many ways we can expand our view: lots of resources from Collision Repair magazine, conversations with peers to conferences and formal training courses. All of these help us in our practice. Speaking of practice, we believe that just like exercise, it only pays dividends when done regularly. Do you have a routine for your reflection? It doesn’t have to be long and involved. It is when done regularly, effective allowing us to see where we were and how much progress we’ve made. This regular habit is one that helps us stay the one who’s driving.
JAY PERRY is the founder of Ally Business Coaching, a process improvement and leadership development firm, and co-author of the book Success Manifesto with Brian Tracy. Jay is also an education partner with California Coast University in Santa Ana, California. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.