I know summer is a good time to step back and reflect, but I am so busy, and I just don’t have the time. Can you help?
Reflection is a tool we use to make meaning out of our experiences. When we can step back and think about our practice, we afford ourselves the opportunity to improve our game. We often think of reflection as a luxury or as something we will do “when we have time.” And it seems to be the first thing we let go of when other action-oriented work comes up. We have to own up to the fact that if reflection doesn’t become a core part of our practice, we are missing opportunities to improve and grow our capacity as leaders. Research by Giada Di Stefano, Francesca Gino, Gary Pisano, and Bradley Staats in call centers demonstrated that employees who spent 15 minutes at the end of the day reflecting about lessons learned performed 23% better after 10 days than those who did not make the time to reflect. (Read more on this in the Harvard Business Review: Why You Should Make Time for Self-Reflection Even If You Hate Doing It.)
The great news is you can get better at reflection, and there is no time like the present to start this process.
First…block out time in your calendar for reflection just as you would for a meeting and make it happen. Carving out the time for the reflection is often the biggest hurdle. Now, you’re well on your way. Choose a time/location that works for you. Whether you’d like to journal, use an app to take notes, go on a bike ride or run, think of reflection as part of your work and commit the time.
Start small. Block out 15-20 minutes alone or with a colleague to ask yourself some reflective questions. Consider things like: What is your biggest accomplishment this past month (or year)? What challenges are you working through? What resources or supports do you need to be successful?
Imagine what might be true for your school if you were to incorporate reflection into your practice. Summertime is a great time to start and a great time to head outdoors (if that’s your thing).
And a Prizmah plug: If you are interested helping your board of directors reflect on their practice through a reflective self-assessment tool and want to learn more about heavily subsidized opportunities for board reflection and training, click here.
—Ilisa Cappell, Senior Director, Prizmah Leadership Academy