• Rebecca Griffiths

Five reasons to pause and reflect this festive season

Updated: Dec 8, 2021

We live in a world which has always valued action. However, since COVID-19 struck, the workforce has pressed forward relentlessly, at unprecedented speed, with little chance to catch its collective breath.

Amidst this chaos, pressing the pause button to reflect on the past few months may not be at the top of your leadership to-do list, however spending time reflecting is one of the most important things you can do at the end of 2021.

Reflection presents a chance for much-needed respite amidst turmoil, to sort through past experiences and create meaning. Importantly it is vital to developing key leadership qualities and skills in an uncertain climate, including high-performance, agility, empathy, and growth mindset.

Here are five reasons to pause and reflect this festive season:

#1 - Reflection enables high performance amidst the chaos

Reflection is invaluable, particularly during hectic times, as it creates a blank canvas for planning before and after an action. It can help you set the most effective goals, identify your strengths, encourage continuous learning, and allow you to adapt quickly to changes.

Reflection plays a significant role in the work we do at TalUpp to help leaders achieve a high-performance mindset, which allows them to achieve results that are better than those of their peers in the long-term. Research conducted in call centres in the US demonstrated that employees who spent 15 minutes at the end of the busy day reflecting on lessons learned performed 23% better.

#2 - Reflection is key to agility

Reflection helps you succeed in a world characterised by relentless disruption. As you are encountering unprecedented situations, you must use trial and error. This makes reflection particularly important, as you must make sense of your new challenges and evaluate the effectiveness of your new solutions.

Reflection also helps you see connections between disconnected events, which can help you anticipate future events and react more effectively to unfamiliar experiences.

#3 - Reflection helps you grow from both failures and successes

Being a ‘failure’ has traditionally been a badge of dishonour, however in the 21st century this needs a rethink. When you reframe failure as a cycle of reflection and learning, growth begins. Reflection means that you take a moment to look back and critically evaluate what didn’t work as well as what did, then apply it in practice. Not only will you not make the same mistake twice, but you can apply this knowledge to future situations so that you do it better next time around.

#4 - Reflection enables you to upskill quickly

In the current environment, acquiring new, different, or more advanced skillsets is key to progression. You can accelerate the speed and effectiveness of your own skill development through reflection.

The ultimate benefit of reflective learning in a world driven by speed is acceleration: by slowing down and actively reflecting on past events we maximise learning and accelerate our own development and effectiveness as leaders. .

#5 - Reflection helps you draw on your values

Reflection helps you become more aware of your views of the world, strengths, weaknesses, assumptions and values that subconsciously influence your actions. Carefully analysing past events makes you more self-aware which is the starting point for changing behaviours. It is key to becoming a more empathetic, compassionate leader, capable of guiding your team through challenging times.

Ready to reflect? Here are some questions for powerful reflection, to get you started

  • What is going well right now and what do I need to do more of to achieve my targets?

  • What is not going well and what may be making me less effective than I could be

  • What are the ineffective behaviours that I keep falling into during this hectic time?

  • What has worked for me in the past that I may not be doing right now?

  • What has worked in other situations that share similar features and challenges?

  • How are my values, world views or expectations helping or hindering me in my current situation?

  • What is the one thing that I will do differently tomorrow to be as effective as possible?

Finding a space and format that works

There is no one recipe for successful reflection - it is important to find a format that works for you. You can use a paper or electronic journal or dedicated reflection app that can be accessed on the go. Alternatively use a high-level mental framework that you can use without the need to write things down.

Reflect on your own or with others – mentors and coaches can be great reflection partners.

Or you could bring together a group of peers or a more formal action learning group to reflect on past events.

Block out one hour once a week or reflect whenever you get a moment - even just two minutes to reflect on a good meeting, a disappointing presentation or a fraught conversation can help you become more effective.

While it may seem counterintuitive during a time of crisis, slowing down and taking a look back to reflect may be the best thing you can do to increase your effectiveness and performance in 2022.