“Self awareness is the ability to take an honest look at your life without any attachment to it being right or wrong, good or bad.”
– Debbie Ford
What’s the foundation for extraordinary leadership that leaves a lasting impact?
Far from being selfish, self-reflection allows us to explore ourselves more deeply – or as Inc.com author Jacob Morgan asserts, “Before you can lead other people, you have to learn how to lead yourself.”
The Many Benefits of Self-Reflection
Leaders – or anyone who consciously engages in a practice of self-reflection – can expect to enjoy many benefits:
Stronger clarity and confidence when making decisions
More effective, productive communications with others
A deeper understanding of our thoughts, moods, and behaviors
Ability to tap into our highest potential with greater ease
A sense of groundedness and connection in work and life
As most leaders know all too well, it can be incredibly easy to get so caught up in the rapid pace of modern life with its seemingly endless parade of responsibilities that we put self-reflection on the back burner.
When this happens, we lose touch with ourselves and our ability to lead with authenticity.
It’s Time to Get BOLDLY Honest – With Ourselves.
When is the best time to practice self-reflection? That’s a question only you can answer, but here’s a great hint from Forbes contributor Naz Beheshti: “It is in the times where you feel that you cannot find enough time that reflection will prove most useful.“
Self-reflection is all about getting radically honest with ourselves, getting clear on what our values are, and asking the right questions to provoke a deeper, inner contemplation. “Radical honesty would require us to stand fully in our truth,” suggests Beheshti.
There is no right or wrong time to engage in a practice of self-reflection. Rather, finding what works for you and doing it consistently is key.
Some people may find it most effective to self-reflect first thing in the morning, before the hectic pace of the day gets underway and a greater sense of clarity is present. Others may prefer to bring closure to a busy day with a quiet time of self-reflection before retiring for the evening.
Need some inspiration to get started? Try any of these simple strategies to discover which ones most resonate with you…
1- Start a journal. Spending time in the solitude of self-reflection can be just the springboard we need to take effective action when we feel ready. And journaling is one of the best strategies we can use to increase our self-awareness. Do an entire brain dump or just scribble down a few thoughts – you might be surprised at the big insights you gain from this age-old practice.
2- Try a little gratitude. Gratitude isn’t just a feel-good strategy – it has proven benefits, backed by science. Consistent expressions of gratitude actually alter the molecular structure of our brains, enhancing our levels of both happiness and health. This is one simple practice you’ll want to make a part of your everyday life!
3- Ask questions. Indeed, self-reflection involves getting radically honest. When we take a step back from the constant activity of the day, we can ask deeper (and sometimes difficult) questions, like: What are my values? Did I live in alignment with them today? What is my “why”? What legacy do I want to leave as a leader?
4- Infuse self-care. Self-care isn’t self-indulgent; instead, it can become the foundation of a virtuous circle around you: the kinder you are to yourself, the kinder you will likely be to others. The more they receive kindness, the more they can give it to themselves and others. And so on. Think about it: it all starts with you.
5- Challenge convention. If you’ve followed my blogs for any length of time, you know that I’m not afraid to go against the grain when the situation dictates. That’s where the whole “radically honest” part of self-reflection comes in. When we’re willing to “get real” with ourselves, we sometimes uncover things we were completely unaware of.
At times, the insights we receive as a result of self-reflection may surprise us. They may call for us to challenge conventional wisdom, to go against a common mindset. And that’s a wonderful thing!
It was John F. Kennedy who once said: “Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.”
May we all integrate a strong practice of self-reflection into our daily lives so we too, can get BOLDLY honest, challenge convention, and lead with greater ease…and lasting impact.
Discover even more self-reflection strategies and learn innovative leadership tips when you sign up for my FREE Weekly Bold Moves right here, delivered fresh to your inbox each week!
Colleen Slaughter Raue, Managing Partner of Authentic Leadership International
Colleen is a transformational leadership coach who guides international leaders as they attain the clarity, courage and self-confidence necessary to realize higher levels of productivity and fulfillment in both their personal and professional lives.
Her purpose is to facilitate her clients’ transformation from limiting beliefs and self-doubts into a deeper, more powerful knowingness of how much they – and what they envision for themselves – truly matter.
Colleen’s perspectives were recently featured in an article on the International Coach Federation’s website here.