One of the greatest shortcomings in America is our never-ending zeal for moving immediately to “the next big project.” Just as we complete one task, we instantly put it behind us and focus on the next.
What a mistake.
When we push the pause button and look back, we can learn so much about how to do even better going forward. Reflection means “careful thought” as a retrospective.
One great approach I often use is to apply Barnett Helzberg’s “Three Magic Questions” as a construct: What went well? What didn’t go well? What was missing?
Some projects go great. It’s important to celebrate success to keep that positive imagery in mind as we move forward.
Some projects don’t go great. It’s even more important to learn those lessons so we never repeat those mistakes, and can apply that (painful) learning to other initiatives.
But all projects offer opportunities for learning how to do even better in the future.
Improve your future by reflecting on the past
Investment advisors have trained us with standard legal disclaimers of “past performance does not guarantee future results.” While true, I modify that to say, “past performance is a primary gauge of future results.” When we pause to reflect, we increase the odds of an even better outcome next time.
There’s another key reason to reflect. And that’s to serve as a beacon or inspiration to others.
Annual meetings for organizations are a terrific opportunity to celebrate success and inspire others to do even more. So are staff meetings, internal communications and other team-oriented events.
According to Edmund Burke, an 18th-century Irish-born member of the British Parliament and fearless friend of liberty, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” When we pause for just a few moments to reflect on what we did, we will do even better going forward.
Stephen Covey teaches us the importance of sharpening the saw as the seventh and perhaps most important habit of highly successful people. The same principle applies to the power of reflection.
I’m always asking, “What did we learn from this?” I never focus on affixing blame for problems; rather, I seek an opportunity for continuous improvement.
Unleash the power of reflection.
Onward and upward.Tagged Barnett Helzberg, Edmund Burke, Eric Morgenstern, Morningstar Communications, reflection, Stephen Covey