Reflect. You have to do it. Here’s why.
Our society is oriented around activity, tasks, measurements and deadlines. The unintended bi-product is a culture where the urgent takes the place of the important. After all, if you haven’t “accomplished” anything today, then how can you justify your existence?
Most of my time is spent getting people out of the urgent mindset and into the important. Sometimes I’ve worked with leaders trying to gain clarity on their vision, improve execution or collaborate better. Other times I’ve walked alongside leaders who sought better work/life balance. Everyone has a different realm where they need coaching. But there’s one thing I’ve found all these situations have in common. These people simply needed a space to reflect.
A few months ago one of my clients flew to Orange County to take a day with me in the mountains. We loaded up the mountain bikes and took five hours to plan his year as we rode a trail. Funny thing, I mostly asked him questions and then gave him 30 minutes of silence to reflect as we biked. After 30 minutes, I then asked him what his thoughts were. Almost every time – he had clarity. Why? He made the space to reflect.
I’m excited to do a similar exercise next month in the mountains of North Carolina with one of my clients who wants to take a day to hike in the mountains and develop a 50 year plan for his life and leadership, he wants to make a plan that will carry on past his death! How are we going to do it? Well, I can’t give all that away. But I can tell you it’s going to involve a number of questions and extended times of silence as we hike. It’s experiences like this that make me love my job!
Personally, I take around three or four hours at the beginning of each month to reflect on my past month and think on where I ought to focus for the coming month. These times usually involve solitude, walking or something else active. As a man of faith, I make these focused times of prayer.
After taking this time, I record in a journal what my monthly priority is and a few subsequent actions that should take place. Then, when I get home, I put these items in my calendar and make a printout of my main thing and the subsequent actions. This printout goes on my wall as a daily reminder of my most important thing. Do you have a practice like this? If so, I’d love to hear about it. Please email me at email@example.com.
Reflection is key if you’re going to find freedom from the giant list of things others think you should do. Taking this time will enable you to say “I know the one thing I must do,” and put the other things in second place.
Whether it’s you or your team, I’d love to walk alongside you to help you figure out what your main thing is and design a simple strategy to get you there. Please take this time, you’ve got an important role in this world and life is to short to just be spinning your wheels.
To end, I’d like to quote Peter Drucker, “Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.”
Reflect. You have to do it to become more effective. Whether you need help or have a story to share, let me know.