Reflection for Personal and Professional Development
Whatever you can do,
Or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
- Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
Reflection IS a personal and a professional development activity.
I consider myself a reflectologist, a term I created during one of my reflection sessions. A reflectologist believes in the importance of reflection for growth and change. A reflectologist takes the time to build reflection into all activities. Reflectologists spread the word about the importance of taking time to reflect. Reflectologists use reflection to bring direction, peace, and understanding to life. I'm proud to consider myself a reflectologist both personally and professionally.
Effective and meaningful reflection is done deliberately. It is done with a conscious effort. You don't accidentally reflect on something about which you are very interested. Positive change does not occur without deliberate reflection.
I have coined a phrase - RaW Stemsä - that is useful in understanding the power of reflection. A RaW Stemä refers to an open-ended statement or question that leads your mind to reflecting on the past, in the present and/or for the future. The 'R' stands for reflective; the 'a' stands for and; the 'W' stands for writing. A Reflection and Writing Stem is like a sentence completion or question which allows you to fill in your thoughts.
RaW Stemsä are useful. It is very important that you both reflect on something and make some written notes as well. The writing is the doing part of thinking. Writing is important because it allows the mind to continue to work on things after you have stopped deliberately thinking about them. Writing allows you to return to your train of thought picking up where you left off.
Reflection without writing can be frustrating. Many a great idea has been lost because it wasn't recorded, in detail, when it was first conceived. Writing is the initial doing part of action based on reflection. Writing is a trigger for the subconscious mind to begin working. Writing leads to more reflection. It is a record of previous thoughts and the starting point for new considerations.
Here are some Raw Stems of a general nature to help you understand the concept. The better you become at creating your own stems for the topic you wish to pursue the better off you will be. It will focus your reflective process, generate ideas, and bring results sooner.
This turned out this way because?
If I were doing it over again I would?
I want my actions to be my best effort always so?
I truly believe?
The practicalities of this are?
When I'm done I hope that?
Others have said that?
I realize now that?
I'm really good at?
Next time, I'll?
The learning curve this time?
I've learned in the past that?
I've always wondered?
It seems reasonable to me that?
Reflection is a skill. As a skill it can be learned. We can teach ourselves and others to make reflection time an integral part of both the personal and professional sides of our lives. Reflection should be a daily occurrence but not in a haphazard fashion.
We can teach ourselves the techniques of good reflection. We can develop our own best practices for effective reflection. We can allow ourselves to embrace reflection as a necessity in our lives.
Consider the concept of reflection in terms of time. There are past, present and future tenses of reflection. You can reflect ON THE PAST in terms of what has already taken place and that can't be changed. This is past tense reflection.
You can also reflect IN THE PRESENT as you are in the process of doing something. This present tense reflection allows changes to be made as you go along.
And, of course, there is also a future tense of reflection FOR THE FUTURE. This could be called many things including dreaming, goal setting, aspiring?
Reflection time gives you total control of the past, present and future. Reflection implies doing something. Reflection without doing is a waste of time. There is doing and not doing, there is no such thing as trying. You have already done something, are currently doing something, or will be doing something.
We can set aside time specifically for reflection. Never feel guilty about physically doing nothing while you are mentally engaged.
Effective use of reflection time is made effective only if actions are taken. Ideas born out of reflection that do not lead to action render the ideas inert and of little or no value to anyone, least of all you.
The tenses of reflection are:
REFLECTION ON THE PAST
REFLECTION IN THE PRESENT
REFLECTION FOR THE FUTURE
WISDOM FROM REFLECTION
Without reflection, experience is not cumulative. - Unknown
Reflection plays a major role in acquiring wisdom. Wisdom comes with knowledge and experience with enough reflection to create your own personal brand of wisdom unique to you. No two people bring the same wisdom to a situation. Wisdom is unique to the individual.
Consider the following equations:
INFORMATION + EXPERIENCE = KNOWLEDGE
KNOWLEDGE + EXPERIENCE + REFLECTION = WISDOM
When learning anything for the first time you need information in terms of data, vocabulary, facts, information, skills, attitudes in order to learn to do something which then becomes your experience and yours alone. Knowledge is the result of information plus experience. You accumulate knowledge in a variety of ways and in many aspects of life. But knowledge by itself isn't wisdom.
Wisdom comes from the knowledge you have gained through previous experiences. As you attempt more difficult tasks and activities using your acquired knowledge you gain wisdom. Wisdom requires reflection on top of experience and knowledge. It's the reflective process that allows you to use the knowledge to solve bigger problems, to analyze and synthesize, create, imagine, explore? With wisdom born of reflection you are able to contribute more, teach others, inspire individuals, provide a new point of view or perspective, combine disparate ideas/concepts to produce new ideas, give new direction to old pathways, influence others, attract disciples, be seen as an innovator? leave a legacy.
Do yourself a favour! Set aside time for reflection. And don't feel guilty about it!