The Importance of Reflection to Grow
This week, we got all of the senior leaders together for 3 hours to reflect on the year and plan for 2018. We started with 10 minutes of mindfulness, courtesy of Andy and the Headspace app; it is interesting that we tend to jump from one meeting to another and cram as much into our day as possible and we see this as the most efficient way to operate as we are cramming lots in, right? Wrong.
There was a recent study in the UK, of nearly 2,000 workers, that showed the average person works productively for just 3 hours per day. I could hear many people say 'That's not me', but when you think about what working productively really is, it is about showing up with energy, being present and making progress on things that matter. How much of your day is really that?
Mindfulness allows you to reset and is something I use at the start of a meeting where I need people to temporarily forget about challenges elsewhere and concentrate on the task at hand.
We then split into groups of 3 or 4 and each person spent 15minutes on their own, thinking about how their energy has changed throughout the year, and what their feelings were, the highs, the lows and the reasons, then the group came back together to discuss for 30 minutes.
I also wanted to know their prediction on their energy over the next few months as this would give me a sense of how people were feeling at present and whether they were optimistic or pessimistic and more importantly why.
What were the themes that came up? Well, there was a lot of pride about what we have achieved as it has been another amazing year, but there was also 'tiredness', some 'frustration' with 'too many meetings'. I took an action to come back with a proposal on how we can make meetings more significantly more productive and what principles we will use (I will post this as a follow up)
We then finished the session with everyone talking about the one thing they were most proud about during the year and then had lunch together.
For some, this may all sound like a 'touchy feely' session and not really work - 'What's the point?' I hear you ask. For me, these are some of the most important sessions we have and the best investments, but why?
People generally don't reflect enough - When you reflect it helps you make sense of things and you can see the +ves and -ves over a period. We are mostly pre-disposed to the negatives and remember these most often so reflecting helps to bring things into perspective and show you that there were plenty of highs too.
Doing this as a small group and then sharing with the bigger group helps everyone to build belonging and get to know each other on a deeper level. Everyone's energy curve is different and generally links to their personal life as well as work life.
As leaders, seeing how people are feeling and where their energy is is critical as you can't change what you don't know. Energy is contagious, if your senior leaders are pessimistic, that will translate into the wider organisation and it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Conversely, if your leaders are positive then that will be contagious too.
I used to feel that spending time thinking and reflecting was what I did when I had spare time, but I now know it is one of the most important things I do.
My reflection on my year is that the most valuable thing I can do is spend more time on 'being' not 'doing'. My team want me to be present, to be there for them, to listen and to empathise, not to solve their problems.