It’s more important than you think!
Leaders are a busy lot of people.
We are responsible for getting our team (or organisation) to the goals and making sure the team accomplishes its mission. Apart from our primary objectives, we also have secondary responsibilities, like taking care of and motivating our team, among others.
Each day, many things demand our attention: not only those we’re primarily responsible for but sometimes those we are not directly responsible for. With so many things to deal with, we tend to be very busy most of the time; though some leaders actually wear “busyness” as a badge of honour!
I remember when I first became an Operations Director, many years ago, busyness became my best friend. From the moment I stepped into the office until the time to go home, I had to attend to many things. Most days, I wondered where all my time went, and occasionally I wondered if all that I did were even necessary.
Even as recently as several months ago, when I was running a short-term project, I found myself going from early morning till evening without having much time for a breather. It was as if one task just led to another, or many things all happened at once. The sequence of the day could become so blurred-out that I wondered, “What really happened today?”
If we are not careful, we get swept away by the whirlwind!
For some of us, our personality adds to it too. If we’re the “Go, Go!” or hyperactive type, or if we get bored easily and need constant activities and varieties to keep ourselves motivated, we can easily get caught up in doing things and being busy.
The problem is that, if we’re not careful, we can be so busy doing things that we find ourselves losing our way! It will be so sad that after all that busyness, we find ourselves not having any impact or not being fulfilled!
That’s why a leader needs to have regular reflection time!
Why Every Leader Should Have a Regular Reflection Time
Several months into my Operations Director role, I was so stressed out that I realised I needed to pause and take stock; which I did. After that, I started taking time every morning for personal reflection; I would arrive in the office at least an hour before everyone else came in, so I could have undisturbed time to do so.
Benefits of a Regular Reflection Time
Those times of reflection helped me tremendously. For the following reasons:
1. It’s an opportunity to examine myself, evaluate, and improve. I can look at the way I’ve made decisions, handled situations, or related to my team, etc., and think of what I have done well, what I could improve, and how I could do better.
2. It’s a time to prioritise: what’s important, what’s not. What’s critical for getting us to our goals, what’s not helpful. What do the team or I need to start doing, and what do we need to stop doing, etc.
3. It helps me regain/retain my focus. What do the team need that only I could do? What is my unique contribution to the team’s mission, and how well am I doing it? What could other team members do better than me that I need to stop doing?
4. It helps me focus on my being. Who am I? What is my unique calling, and how am I living it out, not just in the long term but also in the day-to-day? What are my values, and how do they show up in my life and my work?
5. It allows me to gain perspective. What’s happening in me, around me, in the team, etc.? Why are things happening the way they are? What lessons can I learn from them? What’s within my control? What’s outside my control?
The time to think helped me stay grounded on what’s important and not get swept away by busyness.
“A regular reflection time helps me focus on my being and also gain perspective!”
Not just personal
I recently had the opportunity to coach a client in rethinking what’s important for his life. He remarked that he has been pursuing many things because of his interest and his personality, but the self-awareness from our coaching time helped him see what he needed to focus on.
Personal reflection time is good, but we don’t always see clearly because of our blind spots. Having a coach helps overcome that limitation. If I knew about “Coaching” when I was an Operations Director, I would have enlisted a coach’s help, too.
It’s not difficult to have regular reflection time. It could be
- 10 to 15 minutes each day, either at the beginning of the day or at the end (I prefer the start of the day because it’s easier to set it apart), or
- 30 to 60 minutes each week, either at the end of the week or beginning, or
- Once a fortnight, with a coach.
The important thing is to schedule it (i.e. in your schedule) and do it regularly.
What about you?
How often do you spend time reflecting?
How has a regular reflection time helped you?
What would you need to do to start having a regular reflection time?