Reflection is a leader’s superpower.

Reflection leaves us clearer, stronger, and calmer. ~Holley Gerth

Looking back on the past nearly two years during the pandemic, there have been benefits. One benefit that I’m fearful we may let slip back to a pre-pandemic habit is time to reflect. I remember meeting with a leadership team in the past year and asking the question. “What have you learned during the pandemic that you would like to carry with you into the future?” One of the answers was, “time to think.”

When the initial lockdown was put in place, nearly everyone was sent home to work, including leadership teams. Working from home enabled leaders to be alone (at least from co-workers), to shut the door and pause in solitude to just think. This leader found great value in that time, to be able to reflect, think, and plan.

A number of years ago, I recall another leader of a fast-growing consulting firm say to me, “I just need time to think.”

The Power of Reflection

Author Holley Gerth in The Powerful Purpose of Introverts explains the power of reflection.

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In Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership through Solitude, the authors interview James Mattis, a retired four-star Marine Corps general. A man of action. Someone who knows pausing for a second can cost a life. A person with a career built on decisiveness. Yet Mattis says, “If I was to sum up the single biggest problem of senior leadership in the information age, it’s a lack of reflection.”

Our world keeps speeding up, yet those who dare to take time to think pull ahead. Slow is the new fast.

Reflection leads to insights and innovations, mended relationships and medical breakthroughs, spiritual transformation, and the art that takes our breath away.

Reflection leaves us clearer, stronger, and calmer.

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Reflection reminds me of the Time Matrix as described by Franklin Covey. People who are more productive are able to distinguish between what is important versus what is urgent. And, prioritize the important (i.e., reflection and planning). If you wait until you have time to reflect, you are likely not going to find the time because something “urgent” will always take priority.

Prioritize Reflection

This topic felt especially timely as the year draws to a close and many of us consider New Year’s resolutions. Why not make 2022 the year you give reflection the importance it deserves. Pick a time, every day, to reflect and put it on your calendar. If it feels overwhelming, start small, with just 15 minutes. Pick a time you believe you will be most likely to commit to, whatever works best for you.

Maybe your reflection time will be spent reading, taking a short walk, listening to music, meditating, or just sitting and thinking. I don’t believe there is only one way, or a right way to reflect. Use Gerth’s description as a way to determine if how you’ve chosen to reflect is helpful. Ask yourself if your reflection time is leaving you clearer, stronger, and calmer. If not, then maybe try a different approach. Reflecting is just one means to develop bold grace leadership.

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