For nearly 40 years I have stopped every January 1 and July 1 to reflect on the state of my learning over the previous six months. I do this so to ensure that I am fully engaged in never ending learning. Without continuous learning we look up one day and say “what just happened - what have I been doing for the past 5, 10, 30 years!” My reflections cover my professional and personal state of learning.
The biggest challenge I find with reflecting is being 100% honest with myself on my learning. Sometimes I find myself in denial about negative learnings. My nature is optimistic and so I tend to see the good and discount the bad. I’ve learned that spending a week reflecting, like I did last week, makes me more likely to confront reality.
Sometimes the learnings reinforce the direction I’m going. More frequently, they lead to a course correction in how I live my life.
As time has gone on I have built in systems to help my reflections. For the companies I’m involved with I set up reviews of where we are and where we are going in the middle of June and December. The learnings from this feed into my personal reflections on what I have learned and need to learn personally.
The learnings end up in my journal. As I’ve aged I’ve found that looking back at past reflections makes me more honest about confronting reality. When I write my need to focus on an area of learning - and write it year after year - then I have to do something. I have to either admit I don’t really care about the learning area - or I need to change my approach.
This July 1 - I have a dozen learnings - some big, some small. Here’s a couple to get you thinking - about your own learnings.
Learning: I have gotten better at INTEGRITY. In January I made a point of focusing on bringing integrity into all interactions. Over the past 6 months this has not always been easy - there have been times when it would have been easier to simply not say anything. However, this often ends up badly - as an unsaid word at the start often snowballs into a bigger issue. I’ve learned that the key to speaking truth for me is to speak from a place of caring not ego. When the words are challenging - but said from a place of caring - they are received much better than when spoken with anger or self interest. I’m still not great at it. I have more to learn about how to remain in a place of true integrity.
Learning: I have not invested enough energy in educating Leadership. Over the past few months, as an experiment, I developed and lead a half dozen education programs specifically for top leadership on the Innovation Mindset that we teach. What I learned shocked me. Quite simply - the world of leadership has really changed. The stresses and frustrations leadership faces are immense and real. I am both humbled and excited to learn more about how to best help leadership face today’s world during the second half of 2017.
Learning: Meditation Works. I know this may be a little “out there” for some. I have dabbled in Mediation over the years. This year I’ve become more regular at it. My more intense focus on Mediation was sparked by a visit to Canyon Ranch in January and the meditation app Headspace . As I reflect on the past six months I realize that I had 3 or 4 runs of daily meditation lasting from one week to three. During these times I calmed my mind - found integrity - lived healthier - etc, etc. I was feeling so “at peace” that I eventually stopped meditating. Soon I was back in need of it. For the second half of the year I’m going to try to make this a habit not sporadic.
As a Canadian American - I get two holidays at this time of year. It was a glorious 150th Birthday for Canada this past July 1. And tomorrow will be a great 4th of July.
I hope this week - or sometime on a river, in the mountains or on the sea you get a moment to reflect on where you’ve been and where you’re going.