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Six Keys to Turning Reflection into Action

by Kevin Eikenberry on March 19, 2010

in Developing Others, Leadership, Learning

ReflectionI’ve spent some time thinking about the importance of reflection this week, not because it is a new value or idea, but because of all the lessons we received from the Remarkable TV event this week.

When we have “big” events in our lives, most of us naturally reflect, if only a little bit, on what happened and what we can learn from it.

Few of us do this as well as we could, and almost no one does it consistently and regularly on everyday events.

So this post is designed to share with you six things that you can do to translate your reflection into action.

1.  Reflect first.  Think about what happened. Befre you get to what worked and what didn’t, play the video tape in your mind.  What actually took place?  Then ask yourself what worked and what didn’t?  Catalog your reactions and emotions in your mind.

2.  Consider your insights. For a quick event like your last staff meeting this step might be pretty quick.  If the event or experience you are reflecting on was bigger or more important, you might want to let your ideas and insights simmer a bit in your mind.  One key question to ask at this step is, how do these insights compare to other experiences I’ve had? 

3.  Clarify your lessons.  If you want to clarify your thinking, you must get it out of your head.  How do you do that?  By writing it down and/or talking about it.  Tremendous clarity and additional learning comes from this personal debriefing process.  If you don’t see yourself as a writer, remember I’m not suggesting you must write it for others to read.  Start a secret learning journal, a hidden file on your computeror whatever works for you.  Or, find someone to confide in and share your half-formed learning with. Either of these activities will make a bigger difference in your learning process than you can imagine!

4.  Consider next time.  Once your lessons have begun to coalesce, your challenge is to think about how you will apply that lesson.  Think about how history might repeat itself, and what you could do differently next time.    This is the important step of transforming your lessons into your next action.

5.  Decide and commit.  Once you have determined some next steps, decide on what you will try next time, and commit to doing it.  If it is something that requires a change in your planning process or is a more complex action, build  plan to do it differently next time.

6.  Do it!  Planning is great, doing is better.  Once you have gotten this far, do it!

This isn’t a complete treatise on reflection and all of the skills you can build to do it more successfully.  It is however a proven process for you to translate things you learn into new actions (and therefore new results). And the process begins with reflection.

These steps apply to any part of our lives so of course we can use these steps to create greater results as a leader. We can also share these steps with others – and even use them in a meeting or with a team to help a group take advantage of these steps to turn experiences into better future results.

Pick an event from this week, from yesterday or from 10 minutes ago, and get started.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mike Cook March 20, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Kevin

Great piece, very practical. Getting managers to recognize that reflecting is action is often a big deal.If I can get managers to regularly complete steps 1 & 2 it is a major victory and often the rest naturally begins to fall into place.

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